Early Doors

Ranking the FA Cup upsets

Early Doors

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Watching the weekend's FA Cup ties was like stumbling downstairs on Christmas night to discover a portly, red-clad figure scrambling back up the chimney (no, not Anderson - Santa).

So the Magic of the Cup does exist after all!

The fourth round produced five big upsets - Premier League clubs beaten by lower-division opponents - while several other big names were run very close including Chelsea, who are not completely out of the woods yet.

So, taking a rare opportunity to talk about football, Early Doors runs down the fantastic five and tries to establish which was the biggest giantkilling.

5) Millwall 2-1 Aston Villa

Only 12 places separate these teams on the league ladder, so this can hardly be called a shock. The main narrative was not Millwall's achievement as much as just how bad Villa are.

In fact, having gone out of the League Cup to Bradford in midweek, a close 2-1 defeat at The Den looks a pretty decent result. Still, any match that provokes a report as spelentic as this from the Birmingham Mail's Mat Kendrick (whose post-match questions Paul Lambert refused to answer) can't be all bad.

4) QPR 2-4 MK Dons

Only the two least consoling consolation goals of all-time mask the sheer comprehensiveness of this beating. For an hour, MK Dons thrashed QPR to within an inch of their lives, racing into a 4-0 lead. It was absolutely astonishing stuff.

The reason this doesn't rank higher is because the result itself was hardly surprising - only the margin. Yes, QPR made changes, but no side with seven full internationals should sustain this kind of a shoeing at home to League One opposition.

It was a total embarrassment - and it would take a brazen manager to use this abject a failure to argue that he needs more money to spend on transfers.

3) Leeds United 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur

Spurs were the best Premier League to perish this weekend but, like Millwall, Leeds are a promotion-chasing Championship outfit and it hardly comes a surprise that they secured a result at a raucous Elland Road.

In fact, Early Doors has a bittersweet feeling about this upset. No manager tries harder in cups than Andre Villas-Boas, and ED loves him for it. After all, what is the point of football if not to win stuff?

So to see AVB pick a full-strength, albeit strikerless, side and still get stuffed... oh, who is ED kidding, it was still pretty hilarious.

2) Oldham 3-2 Liverpool

Relegation-threatened League One side knocks Liverpool out of FA Cup in classic blood-and-thunder clash at Boundary Park. Why, exactly, is this not number one?

First off, it's easy to overlook just how weak the Liverpool side was. They're generally considered a one-man team, and since Luis Suarez is that man, any time he plays they must be at full strength. But they weren't - particularly in defence.

Latin-American fancy fan Sebastian Coates produced a cliché-affirmingly awful performance against Matt Smith. The big striker simply overwhelmed him, aided by some pleasingly laissez-faire refereeing from Lee Probert that fit the occasion perfectly.

Liverpool aren't that brilliant in the first place, and with the likes of Coates, Brad Jones and Jack Robinson in the side, they looked ripe for the taking. And, simply, Early Doors was more surprised by this one:

1) Norwich City 0-1 Luton Town

A giant-killing wolf in sheep's clothing. (Yes, that's a wolf, dressed as a sheep, killing a giant.) For anyone of a similar vintage to Early Doors, Norwich v Luton sounds like your average late 80s Cup tie, played between two unremarkable top flight sides.

Only Luton aren't that any more. They're a non-League side. True, they're a professional Conference National side, so they don't have the ever-chucklesome anecdotes about their centre-back delivering Grant Holt's mail.

And yes, the game suffered by not being on national TV (well done to the networks for choosing the all-Premier League snoozefests of Stoke-Man City and Man Utd-Fulham instead).

But still - the last time a non-league side won away against top-flight opposition was in 1986, when Altrincham won at Birmingham. Even if it doesn't sound like it, Luton beating Norwich was by far the biggest shock of the weekend.

QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND: Harry Redknapp: "Surely they're entitled to beat a team from two divisions down? It tells me I need to improve the squad. That is why I have gone all over Europe these last three weeks trying to improve the squad because we are short."

Yes, it would take a brazen manager to use this abject a failure to argue that he needs more money to spend on transfers.

SELF-PROMOTION OF THE WEEKEND: The second ad break during ITV's FA Cup highlights show last night consisted ENTIRELY of promos for other ITV shows.

Coming soon on ITV: The woman from Peep Show looks older and sadder! The bloke from the Virgin Media ads looks just like he did when he was Doctor Who! Inspector Morse's sidekick is still solving murders - and look! He's got a lickspittle of his own!

You want ED to watch your stinking channel? How about you get on and show the football?

COMING UP: There are four days to go, and at some point this transfer window is going to get interesting, right? Join Eurobot for live, unexpurgated transfer chat - plus lots of pictures of robots and the like.

The African Cup of Nations continues - and we've got more group stage simulcast action as Niger v Ghana and DR Congo v Mali both kick off at 17:00 UK time.

Plus we'll have Jan Molby's verdict on the weekend's action.

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