Credit: The Emirates FA Cup via Facebook.
The FA Cup is synonymous with history, magic and producing some scintillating football spectacles over the years.
Hereford United, Stevenage Borough and more recently Sutton United have all gone on to upset the odds and defeat so-called giants of the game in domestic football’s greatest knock-out tournament.
Over the last decade, with an increased emphasis on the Champions League and plethora of other competitions, many have suggested that the FA Cup is losing some of its magic. However, three games in the last ten years stand out as prime examples that the cup is well and truly alive and kicking.
Manchester City vs. Wigan Athletic (2013)
The 2013 FA Cup final between Manchester City and Wigan may have only produced one goal, but the contrast in footballing superpowers between the two couldn’t have been greater.
At the time, Wigan were struggling for Premier League survival (and were actually relegated that year) but they put those troubles behind them for the Wembley showpiece.
The riches of Manchester City, who are 9/4 to win this year’s tournament according to the FA Cup betting, were expected to easily brush aside lowly Wigan. However, the Latics refused to play ball.
It took until second half injury time for the deadlock to be broken and when it did, it was substitute Ben Watson, who headed past City’s Joe Hart to leave the blue half of Manchester with little to no time to respond.
When you consider City’s squad was full of superstar names such as Vincent Kompany, Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero, Wigan’s unlikely win was all the more impressive.
Tottenham vs. Leeds United (2010)
Leeds United’s fall from grace has been well documented, but in 2010, the Whites from Yorkshire faced first Manchester United in the third round (which could have been included in that list), where a 1-0 away win courtesy of a Jermaine Beckford effort was the difference between the two – much to the delight of the Elland Road faithful.
In the next round, Leeds were paired up with another Premier League outfit in Tottenham Hotspur. A fast, free-flowing game ensued, with Leeds matching Tottenham all across the field despite being in England’s third tier.
Peter Crouch opened the scoring in the 42nd minute, before Beckford continued his scoring exploits just after the break.
Pavlyuchenko looked like he had won the tie for the home side in the 75th minute, but Leeds were awarded a dramatic 96th-minute penalty. Beckford duly slotted home to take the game to a replay.
Spurs went on to win the replay and end the Yorkshire side’s hopes.
Norwich vs. Luton (2013)
2013 proved to be a good year for the FA Cup. Luton were plying their trade in non-league football and Norwich were a top-flight side when the two sides were drawn together in that year’s fourth round.
In a pulsating contest, Scott Rendall’s strike ten minutes from time earned Luton a famous victory as they became the first non-league side in 24 years to knock out Premier League opposition.
The Hatters have since gone on to earn promotion back to the football league and currently occupy a playoff place in league two.
Norwich went the other way, and ended up suffering relegation – promotion – then relegation again, and have an outside chance of making this season’s Championship playoff despite dispensing with the services of former manager Alex Neill.