We take a look at four of the greatest FA Cup upsets against some of English football's giants.

The FA Cup as thrown up some memorable ties in the recent times, where every year the minnows of English football attempt to take their giant-killing opportunity and create the cup upset of the season.

We take a look at four of the most memorable FA Cup upsets, where the biggest clubs in England were toppled and every single neutral or rival fan enjoyed every second of it.

Chelsea 2-4 Bradford City – 2015

Bradford defeat Chelsea in the FA Cup fifth round
Bradford players celebrate their iconic victory in the FA Cup at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea. Image: PA

After defeating Millwall in the third round of the FA Cup, League 1 outfit Bradford City faced the daunting prospect of facing Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea side who were firmly on their way to adding another Premier League title to their honours list in 2015.

It looked to be a routine days work for the Blues who quickly went two goals ahead, courtesy of strikes from Ramires and Gary Cahill which put the home side in cruise control.

Though the beginning of a FA Cup upset was starting to unravel as Bradford forward Jon Stead got his side back into the game with a strike just before the half-time break.

What was to follow would send the visiting away end into pandemonium as they lay witness to one of the most scintillating halves of FA Cup football.

It was Filipe Morais who got the visitors level before a goal from Andy Halliday put the Bantams ahead at the Bridge, forcing Chelsea to commit bodies forward in the hopes of clawing their way back into the tie.

As the Blues pushed forward, it left gaping amounts of space for Mark Yates to add a fourth and send Bradford into the fifth round of the FA Cup in what marked a historic night in the competitions history.

The Bantams went on to defeat Sunderland in the next round, before being convincingly beaten 3-0 by Reading in the quarter-finals to put them out of, what will be remembered as, the finest cup run in the clubs history.

Manchester United 0-1 Leeds United – 2010

Jermaine Beckford scores at Old Trafford against Manchester United in the FA Cup
Jermaine Beckford scoring the only goal to put Manchester United out of the third round in a great FA Cup upset. Image: PA

It was the first meeting between the two northern rivals for six years as Manchester United hosted Leeds United at Old Trafford, as the visitors continued to languish in the Championship.

With Sir Alex Ferguson opting for a weakened side which included the likes of Gabriel Obertan, Darren Gibson and Anderson, it was thought to be enough while having the Premier League’s top goal scorer that season – Dimitar Berbatov – slotting next to Wayne Rooney.

Manchester United are defeated in the third round of the FA Cup by Leeds. Video: ITV Youtube

Though the afternoon did not go as planned for the hosts, as Jermaine Beckford got away from Wes Brown to latch onto a sublime through-ball which was calmly slotted away under Tomas Kuszczak to put the visitors ahead.

Despite United piling on the pressure with a number of chances and the introduction of Antonio Valencia and Ryan Giggs in the second half, it was not enough as the Red Devils were dumped out of the FA Cup in the third round for the first time in 25 years.

Wrexham 2-1 Arsenal – 1992

Wrexham pull off one of the greatest FA Cup upsets in the competitions history as they defeated Arsenal in the third round. Image: PA

It was truly the giants versus the minnows as 2nd placed Arsenal faced a Wrexham side at the bottom of League 2 – a straightforward tie you would suspect.

After going one-nil up in the 70th minute, the Gunners had the tie firmly in their control, though one of the greatest FA Cup upsets began to unfold in front of Arsenal manager George Graham’s eyes as Mickey Thomas scored a sublime free-kick before Steve Watkin scored the dramatic winner.

It was a scene of jubilation and euphoria at the final whistle as fans clambered onto the pitch to celebrate with their newly formed heroes and earn Wrexham a place in the fourth round against West Ham, who they were defeated by after they earned a replay following a 2-2 draw at the Boleyn Ground, succumbing to a 0-1 defeat at home.

Despite this, it remains one of the greatest FA Cup upsets in the competition’s history and a moment to savour for Wrexham fans which will live long in the memory.

Barnsley 1-0 Chelsea – 2008

Barnsley defeat Chelsea in the FA Cup quarter-finals
Kayode Odejayi scores the only goal against the FA Cup holders Chelsea in the quarter-finals. Image: PA

Amidst a fierce title battle with Manchester United – who they would meet in the 2008 Champions League final just months later – Chelsea were overwhelming favourites at they faced struggling Championship side Barnsley in the quarter-finals.

The Blues dominated the FA Cup between 2006 and 2011, winning 19 ties out of possible 20 and lifting the trophy on three occasions in that time. So a trip to Barnsley to earn yet another place in the semi-finals should be a routine victory.

The home side had other plans – despite Chelsea fielding a strong side which included John Terry, Michael Ballack and Nicolas Anelka amongst others – it would not be enough.

I went to watch them (in Chelsea’s 3-0 win over Olympiakos) and it frightened me to death.

Barnsley manager Simon Davey ahead of their FA Cup tie with Chelsea

Despite not scoring for four months, Barnsley striker Odejayi made himself a nuisance for Terry and Carvalho all afternoon which was a sign of things to come as he nodded home to put his side ahead.

With 15 minutes to go, the Barnsley penalty area resembled the Vatican on the Pope’s arrival as Chelsea bombarded the box with drones of attacks, though the home side held firm to book their place into the semi-finals of the FA Cup for the first time since 1912.

Barnsley were defeated 1-0 by Cardiff at Wembley to put an end to their dream run, though the cup upset achieved against a strong Chelsea side is a victory for the history books.

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About the author

Joel Tudor

Digital Sports Journalist for Sport Social and writer of words. A feature on the Football Social Daily Podcast. Slightly biased towards Manchester United.
Follow @mrjoeltudor on Twitter

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