March 23, England:
Every country has one or two domestic competitions that they deem to be the most important in their sports. In a similar context, England has one that has been going on for generations.
IT IS KNOWN AS THE F.A. CUP.
Brief History About The Competition:
The inaugural competition took place in November of 1871. The first tournament had a total of thirteen games, which was won by Wanderers FC.
The team retained its crown the following year. The modern style of the tournament started to come into fruition after the 1888/89 season when FA decided to introduce the qualifying system.
However, the tournament was forced to be stopped from the 1914/15 season till the 1919/20th due to the First World War (WWI).
Wembley Stadium made its debut in the 1923 FA CUP final, which was also known as the “White Horse Final”.
The 20/21 Season
This Covid filled season has brought on some interesting and dramatic games during this year’s FA cup.
Due to the on-going pandemic, this season, there will be no more replays if the match is drawn. This was done to facilitate the teams from facing the load of fixture congestion.
The proper first round of this historical tournament began on the 6th of November, 2020, and lasted till the 9th.
48 different clubs from League One and Two of the English football battled it out to move on to the next round.
These clubs joined other 32 teams who entered the competition by different qualifying games which started at the end of August and came to an end on the 4th of November.
Teams from the Premier League and Championship entered the tournament from the third round.
The second round lasted for four days: November 27 till the 30th.
As for the third round, it was held all across the weekend from the 9th of January till the 11th.
20 teams from the top-tier (Premier League) and 24 from the second-tier (Championship) entered and battled it out with 20 winners from the second round.
In total, 32 games were played in this round, and among which the matches that stood out the most were played between the eight-tier side Marine and Premier League rockers Tottenham.
However, a game between Southampton and Shrewsbury Town was canceled out because a large number of players and staff of Shrewsbury were tested Positive for Covid-19.
The fourth round started from January 22 till January 24, 2021. A total of 32 teams took part in this round while playing 16 ties in total.
Among all of the matches, a clash between Manchester United and Liverpool stood out the most.
Every participating Premier League team except for the likes of Arsenal and Liverpool won their match comfortably and progressed to the next round.
The Gunners lost 1-0 to Southampton while Liverpool lost 3-2 against United at Old Trafford.
The FA Cup fifth round was played in mid-week, it started from the 8th of February. The clash between Everton and Tottenham was the one that stood out the most as The Toffees edge out Tottenham with a 5-4 win after extra time.
Seven Premier League teams and one team from the Championship battled it out in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup which took place on March 20 and 21, 2021.
The Blues Shatter The Hopes Of The Blades
It came as no surprise that Chelsea would beat Sheffield United, who are at the bottom of the Premier League.
Under Thomas Tuchel, this Blue side has not conceded a single goal in 11 hours of game-time at Stamford Bridge and is currently on a 14 game unbeaten streak.
As for Sheffield, well, their PL form depicts their future about what’s happening to them right now.
However, what came as a surprise was the determination of the Blades to outshine Chelsea and showed brilliant resilience the entire game.
The Blues took the lead on the 24th minute when Ben Chilwell‘s shot was deflected off of Oliver Norwood. This didn’t however stop the Blades from attacking.
Sheffield United performed way better this time against Chelsea, which the likes of Atletico Madrid and Liverpool couldn’t do.
They had more shots on target (4) than the entire Chelsea squad (3). One of the most important changes which they had was on the 66th minute; when David McGoldrick missed an open header to score past Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Chelsea inflicted yet another misery on Sheffield on the stoppage time right before the end of the game, when Ben Chilwell‘s pass found Hakim Ziyech, who shot the ball right on the bottom corner.
This ended any chance and hope Sheffield had for qualifying for the semis.
City Cruise Past Everton
Manchester City wins yet another game. This time, the Toffees fall prey to Pep Guardiola’s side.
The game was pretty even for most of the first half. But City dominated the possession for the majority of the game.
Ilkay Gundogan took the first goal of the game in the 84th minute, which gave City the much-needed motivation to finish off the match.
For Full Match Details Read: Man City Make It To The Semi-Finals
Kevin De Brunye once again proved why he is one of the best midfielders in the entire world. He gave the final blow to the dream of Carlo Ancelotti on progressing towards the semi-finals of the FA Cup.
The Foxes Out Shine The Red Devils
Despite being a place down from Manchester United in the Premier League, Leicester showed exactly why they were the underdogs in the FA Cup.
The Nigerian Kelechi Iheanacho proves his doubters wrong once again. He opened up the scoring for the Foxes in the 24th minute.
United looked to bring the deficit down and were successful with a wonderful goal by Mason Greenwood on the 38th minute of the game. The first half ended with a 1-1 score.
Leicester started the second half with the same energy and motivation like the way they did in the first half.
The young Belge Youri Tielemans doubled up the host’s lead in the 52nd minute. United was looking to bounce back from the goal but was unsuccessful.
Iheanacho destroyed the hopes of Ole Gunnar Solksajer with his second goal of the match in the 78th minute.
Southampton Defeated Their Rivals
Bournemouth, who have actually fallen from the graces these past few weeks, were disappointed once again. This time, by the hands of their south-coast rivals Southampton.
The Saints were looking to continue their good performance in the competition and did face a tough challenge from Bournemouth.
However, the game looked over for The Cherries right in the first half as goals from Moussa Djenepo and Nathan Redmond gave The Saints a 2-0 lead right before the end of the 45th minute.
The final blow came from Redmond as he scored his second of the game and Southampton’s third in the 59th minute.
Bournemouth weren’t able to perform as well as the football fans know. This loss, especially to their rivals, has shown why they are currently not in the Premier League but have to fight to even make it to the Playoff round in the Championship.
What’s Next In The Competition?
The Semi-Finals of the historic F.A Cup will be played on the 17th of April, 2021.
The undefeated and clean-sheets kings of Chelsea will face the hard-fighting, quadruple-looking Manchester City on Wembley. This tie will be something worth watching.