We’ve all heard of ‘the magic of the FA Cup’ – memorable games such as Wimbledon’s ‘Crazy Gang’ beating Liverpool 1-0 in the 88 Cup Final or Wrexham dumping Arsenal out in the Third Round with a 2-0 victory back in 1992 come to mind. But is the magic still there?
So far, after this year’s tournament. you’d have to say ‘yes’. We’re heading into the Quarter Final stage with just Manchester United left to play a fifth round tie against Preston North End. If United make it through to the next stage, they will be looking to continue their run, hopefully taking them on to a nineteenth final. But, given the way the Cup has gone this year, that could be a big ‘IF’.
We’ve seen League One’s Bradford City claim a 4-2 victory over Chelsea in the fourth round of the FA Cup and this weekend they were at it again with a stunning two goal victory over Sunderland to take them through to the Quarter Final stage. Championship side Blackburn Rovers will join them after coming back from 1-0 down in the first ten minutes to knock Stoke City out with a 4-1 victory that has left the Stoke fans, like most of us, in complete shock.
All eyes will be on the FA Cup Quarter Final draw this evening to see what potential upsets could be in store for the next round. It’s fair to assume that most teams will be wanting to avoid playing Bradford City. Given their recent Cup form away at Stamford Bridge and home against Sunderland, Bradford City don’t seem to fear anyone in the Cup. Blackburn will also be looking to setup a potential upset against one of the bigger sides left in the draw.
That being said, Arsenal have just avoided a massive banana skin by fending off Middlesbrough with a 2-0 victory, and Liverpool have seen a revival in their fortunes, with the return of Daniel Sturridge. The Liverpool striker linked up well with Jordan Henderson on Saturday to net the team’s first goal in their 2-1 come-back against Crystal Palace. It’s also worth remembering that the reds have made it to the final the last four times they have made it to this stage in the FA Cup: in 2012, 2006, 2001 and 1996. But, before we get ahead of ourselves, there’s the matter of Manchester United vs Preston North End…
So, can Simon Grayson’s Preston North End spark that bit of FA Cup magic and deliver a giant killing and a huge blow to Louis Van Gaal’s Manchester United with victory tonight? We’ll just have to wait and see.