Welcome to another edition of “Has the FA Cup lost it’s magic?” Or as we call it, the FA Cup Review. But as 16 teams battled to remain, who did the cup make disappear?
The weekend started with an intriguing tie, as non-league Lincoln visited Premier League Burnley. Burnley had managed to draw with Chelsea at home just 6 days earlier but the non-league side went toe to toe with their Premier League opposition and got their reward with an 89th minute winner. It was the perfect FA Cup goal, in my view. Bodies flying everywhere, a header that got clawed out by the goalkeeper, Peter Drury jumping up and down asking if it’s gone in, then total bedlam. Joey Barton was once again the pantomime villain, bring elbowed in the head in the first half and then spending the majority of the second half pretending he’d been elbowed in the head. Some things never change. The bottom line though is that non-league Lincoln are in the FA Cup Quarter Finals, one game from Wembley. By contrast, my own side Newcastle haven’t been past the 4th Round in 10 years. Football eh?
Anyway, onto the 3pm’s and to the surprise of nobody the team I deemed boring played out a 3-2 thriller. Oxford scored twice in about 90 seconds to get the game back to 2-2, including the coolest free kick I’ve seen for some time. Stuani came off the bench to get a late winner. Stuani annoys me because he spells his first name “Cristhian” which I can’t get on board with. Sorry mate.
I expected Huddersfield and Man City to play out an entertaining affair with lots of goals but instead they limped to a 0-0 draw. Speaking of limping, Vincent Kompany missed the game with yet another injury. It must be terribly frustrating having to watch Kolarov try and do your job every week. They’ll try again in 10 days, a fixture that neither side needs.
Rounding off the 3pm games was Millwall and Leicester. I think a number of people had a home win on their coupon and as Leicester announced another second string line up, the likelihood of a shock went up a notch. Millwall went down to 10 men to try and give Leicester a chance, but it still couldn’t happen for Claudio’s men and Millwall scored an injury time winner to rub salt into gaping wounds. I hope for Claudio’s sake that they get a result against Sevilla. Actually, for Claudio’s sake I hope they don’t get relegated but in an ideal world, they’ll win the Champions League and get relegated, just to complete this ridiculous journey. Well done to Millwall though, a League One side in the Quarter finals would be a huge story in any other year.
We had a London derby for lunch on Sunday with Spurs travelling to Fulham, which some idiot thought was a potential shock. The only shock here was that Harry Kane played, something Fulham presumably hadn’t prepared for either as the England man plundered a hat-trick in a 3-0 win. Fulham play some wonderful attacking football in the Championship but couldn’t even come close to replicating that against a very strong Spurs side. Tottenham are actually the only team hoping to lose in the Quarter Finals, their record at Wembley in Europe has been woeful this season.
Our late afternoon feast saw Man Utd travel to Blackburn. Ibrahimovic was rested following his hat-trick exploits on Thursday, but the big Swede must have been getting ready for action as soon as Danny Graham put Blackburn ahead. Even though Rashford equalised, Mourinho still unleashed Ibrahimovic and Pogba in the second half, which can only be considered massively unfair. Owen Coyle doesn’t have that sort of resource, a point proven by Anthony Stokes appearing from the bench for the final 13 minutes. Ibrahimovic got his first FA Cup goal at Ewood Park, which is something I’m sure he’ll tell the grandkids about.
I was already pretty annoyed about Sutton vs Arsenal being on a Monday night before I even factored in that the draw would take place on Sunday. So we had two non-league sides in the Quarter Final draw, though that was reduced to one when Arsenal brushed Sutton aside on Monday evening. 2-0 was the score that satisfied everyone really – Arsenal can claim a professional job done whilst Sutton weren’t humiliated and can take a lot of credit for their cup run. However the fact that we’re all talking about their portly goalkeeper/assistant manager eating a pie probably speaks volumes.
Of course I will preview the Quarter Final draw nearer the time but it’s another best case scenario of a draw. The remaining “minnows” get their big away days out, Mourinho travels to former club Chelsea and it’s all set up for four of the so called “big 6” to meet in the Semi-finals – but can we rule out Lincoln and Millwall? We’ll find out in a few weeks!