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Football summary: FA Cup round four – has the world gone mad?

By: Tyler Drake

I’m still expecting to wake up from a ridiculous dream. If there was ever an advert for how the “magic of the cup” still exists, it would look something like this weekend. Shocking, beautiful and hilarious – all at once – as England’s mega-rich, “super-clubs” were brought to the stocks for a public shaming.

Manchester City players will still be wiping egg off their faces after their fourth-round exit to second-tier opponents Middlesbrough. The Premier League champions’ failings could have been spun as a “bad night at the office” were it not for their arrogant decision to fly to Abu Dhabi for a midweek PR exercise – a virtual insult to the cup competition, and Middlesbrough themselves. The sky blues arrived back in Manchester just 19 hours ahead of the match, and it showed. The first goal was poetic – a perfect metaphor for the entire encounter. City lazily missed several chances to stop the danger as the hungrier Middlesbrough players pushed them further and further back. It ended with Patrick Bamford slide-tackling the ball over the line as Fernando messed up City’s last-ditch attempt to clear. It finished 2-0 and really could have been more. Fairytale stuff but, unbelievably, not the biggest story of the weekend.

Bradford City Football Club celebrate in awe after their victory 

That came at Stamford Bridge where run-away Premier League leaders Chelsea were undone by League One’s Bradford City. To put it in perspective, the game was deemed such a foregone conclusion that it wasn’t even picked to be one of the televised fourth round matches. Jose Mourinho’s side simply does not lose at home, certainly not after going 2-0 up inside 38 minutes against third-tier opposition. Yet the same players that have been strolling in the Premier League, conceded four goals, and lost the game 4-2 – a result Mourinho says is his worst ever as a manager. Not hard to see why he feels that way, take a look at some numbers:

  • Positions separating Chelsea & Bradford in English Leagues: 50
  • Value of Chelsea team at Mourinho’s disposal: £200 Million.
  • Money spent assembling Bradford’s team: Roughly £10,000.
  • Odds of Bradford to beat Chelsea before the match: 29-1.
  • Odds of Bradford beating Chelsea after going 2-0 down: I don’t exactly know, but I doubt it would fit on the page.

Manchester United didn’t lose their match against Cambridge United, but their goalless draw against a League Two side was just as shocking. It’s fair to say Louis van Gaal hasn’t enjoyed his early experiences of English Cup competition. Exiting the League Cup at the hands of MK Dons, a narrow 1-0 win over Yeovil to begin their FA Cup campaign, and now (with Robin van Persie, Radamel Falcao and Angel di Maria all on the pitch) the Red Devils failed to beat a side that played in the Conference last season. It’s great news for Cambridge of course; they earn a lucrative replay at Old Trafford, and may now be given permission to swap shirts at the end of the game.

All the action from the FA Cup 

Cambridge Utd 0 – 0 Manchester Utd (!!!)
Blackburn 3 – 1 Swansea    (!!!)
Birmingham 1 – 2 West Brom
Cardiff 1 – 2 Reading
Chelsea 2 – 4 Bradford         (!!!)
Manchester City 0 – 2 Middlesbrough   (!!!)
Derby County 2 – 0 Chesterfield
Preston North End 1 – 1 Sheffield Utd
Southampton 2 – 3 Crystal Palace  (!!!)
Sunderland 0 – 0 Fulham
Tottenham 1 – 2 Leicester
Liverpool 0 – 0 Bolton (!!!)
Bristol City 0 – 1 West Ham Utd
Aston Villa 2 – 1 Bournemouth

(50’) Carles Gil (Aston Villa) vs Bournemouth

– Alan Pardew pulled another amazing win out of the bag as Crystal Palace came from behind (once again) to beat Southampton. It means Pardew has won 4 games out of 4 as Palace boss.
– A round of applause for Aston Villa who managed to score two goals (in the same match) for just the third time this season. Clap… clap…
– Carles Gil scored the goal of the week in this match, on his full Villa debut no less. See it below…