When we hear about teams putting out under-strength squads at FA Cup time much of it is directed at the “bigger” teams. But when you get down to the details what has been missing in the FA Cup over the last two decades or so is the lesser lights having ago.
In 1988 Wimbledon beat Liverpool in the last great FA Cup Final shock. Everton’s win over Manchester United in 1995 was a surprise (Everton 15th and Manchester United league runners-up), Spurs and Nottingham Forest brought two mid-table teams together and Portsmouth win over championship side in Cardiff pitted two unlikely finalists against each other.
But since Wimbledon’s win we’ve had Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal take the trophy five times each and Liverpool one less.
The other winner came last season when Manchester City hoisted a trophy for the first time in thirty-five years and there is every indication that their fans will be celebrating on a far more regular basis than they have been accustomed to.
Liverpool successfully negotiated a tie with Oldham on Friday and we know that we are going to lose one of the two Manchester heavyweights in this round. Arsenal should not take Leeds likely – especially with the hoopla of Henry’s temporary return.
Chelsea have a home draw against Portsmouth and that should be something they can negotiate.
A common formula for trying to zero in on possible upsets is to look at teams from lower divisions that are playing reasonably well against teams that are struggling.the other is good old gut instinct – or in other words pure guess-work.
Here are my top five that might provide a FA Cup shock.
Barnsley at home to Swansea; Fleetwood Town at home to Blackpool; Swindon versus Wigan; Cardiff away to West Brom and on Monday Leeds away to Arsenal.
Do you have a top five that might turn the competition on its ear?
Birmingham v Wolverhampton,
Dag & Red v Millwall,
Barnsley v Swansea,
Brighton v Wrexham,
Coventry v Southampton,
Crawley Town v Bristol City,
Derby v Crystal Palace,
Doncaster v Notts County,
Everton v Tamworth,
Fleetwood Town v Blackpool,
Fulham v Charlton,
Gillingham v Stoke,
Hull v Ipswich,
MK Dons v QPR,
Macclesfield v Bolton,
Middlesbrough v Shrewsbury,
Newcastle v Blackburn,
Norwich v Burnley,
Nottingham Forest v Leicester,
Reading v Stevenage,
Sheffield Utd v Salisbury,
Swindon v Wigan,
Tottenham v Cheltenham,
Watford v Bradford,
West Brom v Cardiff,
Bristol Rovers v Aston Villa,
Manchester City v Manchester Utd,
Chelsea v Portsmouth,
Sheffield Wed v West Ham,
Peterborough v Sunderland,
Arsenal v Leeds
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