In the last few seasons there has definitely been a sense that the FA Cup was dying a slow, painful death. As the bigger teams started to take the competition less seriously, there were plenty of Premier League outfits demeaning the competition by fielding weakened teams and FA Cup action was a distant second when it came to football fans’ priorities.
On the evidence of this weekend, the FA Cup is as magical as ever, with a whole host of upsets for football purists to savour and enjoy.
With Chelsea, Man City, Tottenham and Southampton all losing to – on paper at least – inferior teams, the bookies had a bad day on Saturday. But the away fans had a truly magical afternoon – all four of those teams lost on their own stomping ground.
Perhaps the most brilliant of all the upsets was Bradford City’s comeback to defeat Premier League leaders Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Despite leading 2-0 in the first half, Jose Mourinho’s team contrived to concede five goals to League One outfit Bradford and dispel any suggestions that the quadruple could be on the cards for the Special One’s side.
Mourinho was quick to condemn his side’s collapse, declaring it a ‘disgrace’, but for football fans that don’t happen to support Chelsea, Bradford’s win was far more delight than disgrace.
Chelsea’s main rivals for the league didn’t fare much better, with Man City losing to a Championship side for the second successive season. Middlesborough were good value for their win over the Citizens, and certainly made the most of the chances presented to them despite recording a meagre amount of possession, netting twice in the second half to win 2-0.
To be fair to Tottenham, their defeat to Premier League side Leicester City could hardly be labelled a disgrace, but nevertheless, Spurs fans could be justified in expecting to win against a side who look almost certain to be relegated this season. Despite being in the game for the whole 90 minutes, Spurs’ hammer blow was struck in stoppage time, with Michel Vorm turning villain after allowing Jeffrey Schlupp’s volley to squeeze under him.
The game of the round was undoubtedly Crystal Palace’s shock win at high-flying Southampton, with all five goals of the 3-2 contest coming in the first half. Whilst Saints fans will be understandably disappointed, the reality is that with a Champions League push to get on with, perhaps an early exit is what the doctor ordered.
With plenty of other dramatic contests taking place this weekend, one thing is very clear – the FA Cup is alive and well and at a time when many were questioning its place in modern football, it’s worth has been made utterly apparent. Long may it continue.