Ah, the FA Cup 3rd Round. One of the few romantic moments left in global football, when massive underdogs get to take on their Goliaths and get their moment of fame.
And, of course, this season’s round had the added jeopardy of a virus rendering entire first-team squads unpickable meaning that opportunities were there to be taken.
I don’t think it is too wrong of me to have wished Joe Hart had made even more of a hash of that long-distance effort from Marine. Hart ducked and the ball smashed against the Spurs crossbar as the 8th tier club edged towards 20 minutes without conceding. Sadly, they didn’t get past the 22nd. Carlos Vinicius showed his Premier League class completely miskicking his first effort and getting lucky that there was still a second bite of the cherry on offer – the goal probably didn’t warrant the celebration, in fairness.
Unfortunately for Marine, it looked like Ian Wright’s tactical tips expired after half an hour as Tottenham went on to turn the screw. Tottenham paid Marine the appropriate amount of respect by bringing Gareth Bale off the bench and only scoring five – the perfect number to show the job was done professionally, but without killing the spirit of a team who will never get to do that again in their lives.
Aston Villa might well have regretted sticking five past Liverpool’s kids (albeit for entirely different reasons) last season as King Klopp named a super-strong XI to take on Villa’s U23 squad. Credit to Villa’s kids, when Louis Barry (remember the name, certainly in context to Jamie Vardy) equalised you could sense that they believed ever-so-briefly that they could beat that champions.
Naturally, what actually happened was that Liverpool realised FA Cup egg on their face would not be the greatest look so they sorted themselves out and won 4-1.
Leeds put a semi-decent side out away to Crawley Town and Marcelo Bielsa probably wished he’d gone a bit bigger given that their League Two opponents stuck three past them without reply in the second half. Still, it means Bielsa can focus on winning and losing Premier League matches 3-2 for the rest of the season.
If only Crawley had some kind of token reality TV star in their ranks, they could really cash in on the exposure of this cup run.
Neither Manchester clubs had an issue seeing off their challengers – United beat Watford 1-0 thanks to another early Scott McTominay strike and City also dealt in midfielders only finding the net with Bernardo Silva and Phil Foden seeing them past Birmingham.
The FA Cup can be a good opportunity for completely out of form teams, yes I am looking at you Sheffield United and West Bromwich Albion, to pick off a lower-league foe and remember what it feels like to win a match. However, Big Sam and Little Sam are still yearning that glow of victory having managed to lose to Blackpool on penalties. Sheffield United not only managed to score three but succeeded in only conceding two as they edged past Bristol Rovers.
Some felt Stoke might cause Leicester City a few problems and they could not have been more wrong – the Foxes saw off Michael O’Neill’s men 4-0 without really breaking sweat.
Chelsea went into their match with Morecombe thinking that if Timo Werner and Kai Haverz can’t do it against a League Two side then they might have made a mistake in paying multi-millions for them. Fortunately for Lampard, and the two players, they both got on the scoresheet in a 4-0 victory.
Newcastle put up a good fight against Arsenal and if Andy Carroll had headed his chance from three yards rather than side-footed it he might well have scored the goal that put them through. As it was, Carroll missed and Emile Smith-Rowe scored the all-important extra-time goal to break the Magpie resistance. No comment this week from Mesut Ozil, though – probably tying up his move to Turkey.