FA Cup talking points: a seismic weekend of shocks and upsets
Chelsea and Man City bit the dust, Aston Villa scored and Phil Neville threatened to 'two-foot' someone
The best cup weekend ever?
If the third round of the FA Cup was something of an anti-climax, the fourth round more than made up for it with some incredible stories. The weekend began with Cambridge holding Manchester United to a draw, and that would have been the story of the weekend were it not for the exploits of Bradford, Middlesbrough and the like. Middlesbrough shut out champions Man City to win at the Etihad, Alan Pardew's miraculous return to Crystal Palace continued as the Eagles beat Southampton 3-2 on the south coast; the Premier League's bottom club Leicester won at Tottenham; and Liverpool were held to a draw by Bolton. But all that paled into insignificance when compared to Bradford's comeback win over Chelsea.
The greatest upset ever?
After 40 minutes at Stamford Bridge League One Bradford were 2-0 down to Chelsea and on their way out of the competition. Not much more than an hour later the world had been turned upside down and the Premier League leaders were out of the cup having been beaten 4-2 by a side 50 places below them in the ladder. BBC pundit Robbie Fowler called it the biggest FA Cup shock of all time and 77.2 per cent of voters in a Match of the Day poll agreed with him. But not everyone is convinced. The Guardian accepts that the result was "quite sexy", but adds that "it is nowhere near the top banana".
Phil Neville has a joke
Tomas Rosicky stole the show for Arsenal as they scraped past Brighton on Sunday, but BBC pundit Phil Neville was not impressed by what he saw as some showboating from the Czech midfielder, who twice passed to team mates while looking the other way. "If that was a training session and somebody did that I'd be first over there and I'd probably look to two-foot him or take him out of the game," announced Neville. "If somebody did that in training to me, winding me up, I would be straight in there. I'd smash them." That comment inevitably sparked "uproar" on the internet, which was jumped on with glee by the media. Neville was even forced to insist his comment was a joke.
July: "Sack Phil Neville! He's boring!!"Jan: "Phil Neville said something controversial! Or maybe it was a joke! Either way, sack him!"
— Alan Tyers (@alantyers) January 26, 2015
Is this West Ham's year?
Arsenal and West Ham are the only two teams in the top half of the Premier League who will definitely play in the fifth round of the cup, and the Hammers could be a good bet to win this year's tournament. "West Ham have already proved in the league this season that they can be a match for anyone and, looking at the teams left in the FA Cup, it is not hard to see why the bookmakers have installed Allardyce’s team as fourth favourites," says the Guardian.
Villa in the goals
Aston Villa debutant Charles Gil scored a wonderful goal on his home debut as Villa beat high-flying Bournemouth of the Championship. "This had already felt like one of the most seismic weekends in the competition's history, thanks to Saturday's slaying of the giants, but even after all of that, it turned out there was still one shock left to come. Yesterday afternoon, at Villa Park, Aston Villa scored. Twice," says The Times.