Liverpool and Spurs dumped out of FA Cup by giant-killers
Brendan Rodgers claims to have fielded his strongest XI – so why wasn’t Steven Gerrard in starting line-up?
SUNDAY was a shocker for the Premier League as three of its top clubs were embarrassed at the hands of lower league teams in the FA Cup. While Chelsea left it late in scraping a 2-2 draw away at League One Brentford, there was no such reprieve for Tottenham who were dumped out of the fourth round by Leeds United. But the shame of Spurs was nothing compared to Liverpool who were humbled 3-2 by lowly Oldham.
The Lancashire club lie 19th in League One, a world away from the lofty heights occupied by Liverpool, currently seventh in the Premier League, but Oldham were deserved winners and their reward is a fifth-round clash at home to Everton (see full fifth round draw at foot of this article).
"The FA Cup was a competition we wanted to have a go at and there is no excuse," admitted Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers. "We put out a strong team capable of winning the game but we didn't… you have to take it on the chin."
Liverpool fans might take issue with Rodgers’s claim that he fielded his strongest XI. There was no Steven Gerrard in the line-up and it was only when the club captain was introduced on 55 minutes that the Reds began to dominate proceedings.
Unfortunately for Liverpool, by that stage Oldham had the cushion of a 3-1 lead thanks to a brace of goals from Matt Smith and a powerful header from Reece Wabara. Though Luiz Suarez had given Liverpool hope with a first-half goal it was beyond the Reds to score twice in the final half-hour, and Joe Allen’s goal on 80 minutes ultimately proved to be an irrelevance.
"We were coming here in good form and obviously we are bitterly disappointed," said Rodgers. "We lost our concentration, and only had spells in the last 35 minutes when we were at the right level."
Oldham manager Paul Dickov declared afterwards: "I am very proud and I am very pleased". There were similar emotions at Elland Road as Leeds beat Tottenham 2-1.
Luke Varney put Leeds in front on 15 minutes and Ross McCormack extended their lead on 50 minutes. Clint Dempsey pulled one back for Tottenham but Leeds held for a famous win against the side lying fourth in the Premier League.
"It was a fabulous performance," exclaimed Leeds manager Neil Warnock. "It was a fabulous cup tie, they gave everything. There were a lot of heroes today and we enjoyed it."
Tottenham didn’t, however, with manager Andre Villas-Boas admitting it had been a "difficult" afternoon for his side. "Leeds made the most of their opportunities and they deserve credit for it," he said. "We had a couple of chances in the first half that we normally score. It was good to come back into the game but we could have done a little better."
Leeds will travel to Manchester City in the fifth round while Middlesbrough will host whichever side wins the replay between Brentford and Chelsea. The Bees lie third in League One but for long periods of their cup clash at Griffin Park they had the edge over the European Champions.
Brentford were one up at the break thanks to Marcello Trotta's goal but Chelsea leveled ten minutes into the second half when Oscar fired home.
Harry Forrester restored Brentford's lead from the penalty spot time on 73 minutes after Chelsea keeper Ross Turnbull had fouled Tom Adeyemi.
The Blues' saviour turned out to be Fernando Torres, the Spanish striker finding the target seven minutes from time to take the tie to a replay at Stamford Bridge next week.
"I'm slightly disappointed that we didn't win the game," said Brentford manager Uwe Rosler. "But overall my players did fantastically. They earned the right to play at Stamford Bridge. It will be a great day for our supporters again, for our players and, financially, it will help enormously."
Huddersfield or Leicester v Wigan
MK Dons v Barnsley
Oldham v Everton
Luton v Millwall
Arsenal v Blackburn
Manchester City v Leeds
Manchester United v Reading
Middlesbrough v Brentford or Chelsea