FA Cup 2016-17 4th Round Review

What a Fourth Round of FA Cup matches! Cup upset after Cup upset, with FA Cup records falling all over the country. Some say the FA Cup is dead, but this weekend proved that it is definitely alive and kicking.

The stars of the weekend are National League sides Lincoln City and Sutton United, both clubs successfully defeating EFL Championship promotion chasing clubs in the shape of Brighton and Hove Albion and Leeds United respectively. Two Non-League clubs in the last 16 isn’t unprecedented, it last happened in the 1919-20 season, but since the current structure of the FA Cup was set up in 1925, it has never happened before. In fact, only seven Non-League clubs in total had ever made the Fifth Round in the last 91 years.

Lincoln City have been in the last 16 a few times, but all in the 19th Century, and on the first of those occasions (in 1887), the last 16 was also called the Fifth Round of the FA Cup so the Imps will at least equal their best ever FA Cup run.

Sutton United not only exacted revenge on Leeds United after a period of 47 years, but also are into the last 16 and the Fifth Round for the first time in their history, in what is the club’s 95th FA Cup campaign.

The Cup upsets weren’t restricted to the heroics of these two Non-League clubs. After overcoming Premier League side Stoke City in the Potteries in the Third Round, EFL Championship club Wolverhampton Wanderers did it again by beating Liverpool on Merseyside. Whilst both victories for Wolves are considered upsets, as far as FA Cup history is concerned it is just in line with previous head-to-head records between Wolves and the two Premier League clubs.

Elsewhere EFL One side Millwall were knocking out their second Premier League club at the Den. In the Third Round it was AFC Bournemouth, in this Round it was Watford, in what was the first FA Cup meeting between the two clubs.

Also meeting in the FA Cup were EFL One side Oxford United and EFL Championship side Newcastle United which produced another FA Cup upset at the Kassam Stadium as the Oxfordshire side ran out 3-0 winners. Oxford United are now just one win away from equalling their best ever FA Cup run, last achieved in 1963/64 season.

Completing the Cup upsets of the Fourth Round are EFL Championship club Fulham who thrashed Premier League side Hull City 4-1, with their visitors also missing two in quick succession penalties. Just like Wolves, Fulham already had a better head-to-head record against Hull City in the FA Cup.

EFL Two clubs also gave a great account of themselves despite not causing an upset. Wycombe Wanderers looked as if they were going to produce the shock of the round going 2-0 up at half-time at Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur. However, despite also going 3-2 up, Spurs won the game 4-3 with two very late goals. Accrington Stanley never actually got their noses in front at Premier League club Middlesbrough, but only went down 1-0 and in the process equalled their best ever FA Cup run.

EFL Championship club Derby County still have a chance of adding the the Cup upset quota after being held to a 2-2 by Premier League champions Leicester City at Pride Park. Derby have never lost to Leicester in the FA Cup so the omens are good for another upset.

Other ties went the way of League status or the form book. Premier League sides Manchester United, Chelsea and Burnley comfortably beat EFL Championship clubs Wigan Athletic, Brentford and Bristol City at their respective home grounds. Manchester City and Arsenal both won convincingly at fellow Premier League clubs Crystal Palace and Southampton respectively. EFL Championship clubs Huddersfield Town and Blackburn Rovers both defeated lower level EFL clubs. Huddersfield won at EFL One side Rochdale and Blackburn beat EFL Two club Blackpool.

This all leaves 17 clubs standing in this season’s FA Cup. Eight are from the Premier League, five from the EFL Championship, two from EFL One and two Non-League clubs from the National League. The last time a Non-League club made the FA Cup Quarter Finals was in 1914, Southern League side Queens Park Rangers. It was 1912 the last time two Non-League clubs were in the last eight (Swindon Town and Fulham).

The way this season’s FA Cup is going I wouldn’t be surprised to see both Lincoln City and Sutton United replicating that feat.

 

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