The latest edition of English football’s most historic club competition is of course set to come to a head on Saturday night.
In a repeat of the League Cup final from earlier this year, Chelsea and Liverpool are primed to do battle at Wembley once more, on this occasion for the FA Cup title.
Ahead of what is no doubt set to prove a thrilling encounter between two of European football’s best sides, we have therefore decided to look back at some of the standout FA Cup showpiece fixtures of years gone by.
Below are 101‘s picks for the five greatest FA Cup finals of all time.
Arsenal 3-2 Manchester United (1979)
First on the list comes a five-goal thriller between Arsenal and Manchester United in 1979.
With a full 85 minutes on the clock, in front of a 100,000-strong crowd, Terry Neill’s Gunners looked well on their way to glory, leading by two goals to nil courtesy of strikes on the part of Brian Talbot and Frank Stapleton.
A twist in the tale, however, was yet to come, as, within the space of 120 seconds, United levelled things up through Gordon McQueen and Sammy McIlroy.
Arsenal, though, were ultimately not to be denied, as Alan Sunderland’s famous winner in the final minute of the 90 ensured that English football’s most coveted cup prize made its way to north London, on the back of what remains one of the wildest finishes in the competition’s history.
— Throwback Arsenal (@ThrowbackAFC) May 12, 2021
Liverpool 3-3 West Ham (2006)
The most recent entry on our list comes in the form of Liverpool’s comeback downing of West Ham United in 2006.
Just one of several memorable 3-3 stalemates from which the Reds ultimately emerged victorious courtesy of a penalty shootout, this game will always be remembered for one defining moment.
That Steven Gerrard strike.
After his side fought back from two goals down only to find themselves in a hole once more when Paul Konchesky’s delivery somehow managed to make its way beyond Pepe Reina and in, captain and talisman Gerrard stepped up for Liverpool when his side needed him most.
As the ball dropped in his path a full 30 yards from goal with 91 minutes on the clock, the English international drove the sweetest of half volleys into the bottom corner of the West Ham net, sending the Liverpool faithful into delirium, and setting the stage for a spot-kick triumph at the Millennium Stadium.
Blackpool 4-3 Bolton (1953)
From the latest addition to our list to the oldest, the 1953 clash between Blackpool and Bolton Wanderers, despite having taken place over a half-century ago, remains in the eyes of many the greatest FA Cup finale of all-time.
The matchup proved an iconic one for so many reasons, not least the individual display of the iconic Stanley Matthews.
The gifted wide-man’s brilliance up and down the right flank proved the catalyst for Blackpool’s eventual comeback triumph, as Stan Mortensen’s fine hat-trick, including a stunning last-minute free-kick, pulled the Seasiders level as proceedings rolled into injury time.
And yet, there remained time for Matthews’ wing wizardry to prove telling once more, as the English international’s pull-back was slotted home by Bill Perry.
‘The magic of the FA Cup’ in all its glory.
FA Cup Final May 1953
Blackpool 4 – Bolton 3
Footage of Blackpool’s players on the train as they head home and the cup parade following their famous victory over Bolton Wanderers.#BFC #Blackpool #UTMP #FACupFinal @FootballArchive @BlackpoolFC pic.twitter.com/ZUJbYUQMUy
— The Road to Wembley (FA Cup Finals 1923 – 2000) (@FACupWembley) November 12, 2020
Liverpool 0-1 Wimbledon (1988)
Another famed FA Cup occasion involving Liverpool, this time out, the Merseysiders were forced to face up to defeat.
Fresh off another league title, Kenny Dalglish’s talent-packed Reds made the trip to Wembley as overwhelming favourites up against a Wimbledon outfit infamously dubbed ‘The Crazy Gang’.
In one of the greatest-ever FA Cup upsets, though, form and all logic soon went out the window.
After Lawrie Sanchez’s header handed a Wimbledon side featuring the likes of Vinnie Jones, Dennis Wise and John Fashanu an unlikely first-half lead, normality looked set to be restored upon Liverpool being awarded a penalty shortly after the interval.
John Aldridge’s ensuing effort, though, was kept out by Dave Beasant, to ensure that Wimbledon ultimately emerged on the right side of a 1-0 scoreline.
Well, I’ve asked you all your favourite FA Cup upsets, so @easyodds have asked me to share mine…
Yep you guessed it. Wimbledon vs Liverpool 1988.
What a brilliant day that was
— Vinnie Jones (@VinnieJones65) January 6, 2022
Tottenham 3-2 Manchester City – Replay (1981)
Last up in our feature comes another clash which has perhaps become better known for its winning goal than all of the drama which came before it.
The fact remains, though, that across 165 minutes of action over the course of a pair of FA Cup meetings back in 1981, Tottenham and Manchester City simply could not be separated.
This was until the iconic Ricky Villa conjured up a true moment of magic to see Spurs over the line, courtesy of a pulsating 3-2 victory.
Striding into a packed City penalty area, the one-time Argentine international somehow navigated his way through a series of challenges, before slotting beyond Joe Corrigan in the Sky Blues’ net for his 2nd of the afternoon.
One of the most recognisable moments in FA Cup history, and a fitting way to round out not only a wonderful game of football, but also our list of the competition’s standout showpiece occasions.
— Emirates FA Cup (@EmiratesFACup) May 14, 2020
Honourable mentions: Coventry 3-2 Tottenham, Arsenal 3-2 Hull City, Liverpool 3-2 Everton, Crystal Palace 3-3 Manchester United
This article was edited by Ben Browning.
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