Year of the underdog
We reflect on an FA Cup that has been the most unpredictable for a century.
Last Updated: 16/05/08 9:47am
This year's FA Cup has been the most unpredictable for a century, with top-flight sides dropping like flies from the moment they entered the competition.
Here, we document the fate of each of the 19 Barclays Premier League clubs to fall by the wayside:
The tone for a season of shocks was set on third-round day, as EVERTON, BLACKBURN, BIRMINGHAM and BOLTON all lost to lower-league opponents. Everton's home defeat to Coca-Cola League One Oldham and Blackburn's 4-1 hammering by Coventry at Ewood Park were the biggest surprises. Birmingham were humbled 2-1 at Huddersfield and Bolton went down 1-0 at home to Sheffield United. The four all-Premier League ties saw SUNDERLAND beaten 3-0 at home by Wigan, while ASTON VILLA lost 2-0 to two late Manchester United goals at Villa Park. WEST HAM v Manchester City and READING v Tottenham both went to replays, which saw the Hammers and the Royals both beaten 1-0. The final third-round tie to be settled saw FULHAM crash out on penalties after a goalless draw at League One Bristol Rovers.
Five more Premier League teams were sent packing in round four, which was unusual in not throwing up any replays. DERBY and NEWCASTLE were the first to go, the former's miserable season continuing with a 4-1 home defeat to Preston. The latter went down 3-0 at Arsenal. WIGAN followed later that evening, losing 2-1 at home to Chelsea. The following day saw TOTTENHAM beaten 3-1 at Manchester United. But the big shock of the round came at Bramall Lane, MANCHESTER CITY becoming Sheffield United's second top-flight scalp in a 2-1 defeat. City were not helped by their own supporters, whose balloons drifted from the stands to the pitch and had a bizarre hand in the Blades' opening goal.
Just six of the FA Cup's last 16 were Premier League sides and although only two of them went out in round five, they were two of the so-called 'big four'. LIVERPOOL had only narrowly avoided total humiliation against non-league Havant & Waterlooville in the previous round but appeared to have learned little as Barnsley came to town. Rafael Benitez's men surrendered a 1-0 lead at Anfield, with Brian Howard netting a famous stoppage-time winner in front of the Kop. ARSENAL maintained their policy of fielding a second-string side in domestic cup competitions and were made to pay as Manchester United crushed them 4-0 at Old Trafford.
A day that will go down in FA Cup folklore unbelievably heralded the demise of both last year's finalists. MANCHESTER UNITED pummelled Portsmouth at Old Trafford but were made to pay for a succession of missed chances when a late Sulley Muntari penalty saw them beaten 1-0. Holders CHELSEA's exit was even more incredible, a near full-strength side simply outfought by Barnsley, who emulated their Anfield exploits with a 1-0 victory at Oakwell. Unheralded striker Kayode Odejayi stole the glory with a second-half winner. Already guaranteed the first FA Cup final not to feature any of the 'big four' since 1991, Cardiff set about making more history the following day with a 2-0 victory at MIDDLESBROUGH. Completely outplaying their hosts, the Bluebirds netted twice in the opening 23 minutes and did not look back. The result meant there would be only one top-flight team in the semi-finals for the first time since 1908.