“And we’ll really shake them up when we win the FA Cup, cos Liverpool are the greatest football team” is how the famous old chant goes, one that’s been etched in my brain since childhood! Turning those words into reality has been difficult for the Reds in recent years, with our last win coming in 2006. Here, I take a look at our last 5 FA Cup campaigns.
2012 – final
This represents our best Cup run since that 2006 triumph. The Reds had already won the League Cup and Kenny Dalglish was looking to complete a historic cup double. Having been drawn away in every round on our way to the League Cup triumph, the opposite happened here as Oldham, Man Utd, Brighton and Stoke were all beaten at Anfield. The highlight was obviously Dirk Kuyt’s last minute winner against the Mancs, sweet revenge for being cheated at Old Trafford in the same competition on Kenny’s return a year earlier.
That set up the small matter of an all Merseyside semi final with Everton, the first meeting of the 2 sides on neutral territory since the 1989 final. What seemed like the entire city decamped to the capital for a Saturday lunchtime kickoff, and the Reds memorably recovered from a half time deficit to win 2-1, with Andy Carroll heading in a late winner.
Carroll would also take centre stage in the final. The ex Newcastle man came off the bench with the Reds trailing 2-0 to Chelsea. In truth we hadn’t got going and Pepe Reina had an afternoon to forget. But Carroll’s introduction turned the game; he pulled one back before heading in what looked like a perfectly good equaliser, only for the officials to decide it hadn’t crossed the line. There’d be no cup double, and a comprehensive league win over the same opponents a few days later was little consolation.
2013 – 4th Round
Brendan Rodgers’ first FA Cup tie came in the very un-glamorous surroundings of Mansfield Town, then of the Conference. Daniel Sturridge marked his Liverpool debut with a goal, but the main talking point was our second goal, which came off Luis Suarez’s hand, prompting ESPN commentator Jon Champion to disgracefully denounce Suarez as “a cheat.” Despite some of the shenanigans that go on in the game, I’ve never heard a commentator from a main stream broadcaster use such language to describe a player since.
The 2-1 win at Mansfield set up a 4th round tie at Oldham Atheltic. Despite making several changes, the Liverpool team that day still included Skrtle, Henderson, Allen, Sterling, Suarez and Sturridge, while Steve Gerrard came off the bench. But that wasn’t enough to prevent us from slipping to a humiliating 3-2 defeat, with giant centre forward Matt Smith causing havoc.
2014 – 5th round
Oldham were the opposition for the 3rd successive season, and Iago Aspas’ only Liverpool goal opened the scoring before a late own goal settled it.
The Reds had to contend with a ludicrous lunchtime kick off at Bournemouth in Round 4, and the scoring that day was also opened by a footnote in Liverpool’s history, Victor Moses, before Daniel Sturridge sealed another 2-0 win.
The 5th Round draw sent us to Arsenal, 8 days after the Gunners had been humiliated 5-1 at Anfield. The tie became the Howard Webb show. Despite playing well, we found ourselves 2-0 down to 2 Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlain goals, before a Steven Gerrard penalty got us back into it. Minutes later, Luis Suarez was tripped for what was the most blatant penalty you’ll ever see. Webb, standing feet away and with a prefect view, waved play on. The work of a cheat, eh Jon?
The same Howard Webb had also failed to send off Samuel Eto’o for a disgraceful foul on Jordan Henderson at Stamford Bridge a few week earlier, and Webb’s long list of misdemeanours could easily command an article all of their own!
Webb’s retirement after that summer’s World Cup was no great loss to the game, although we now have to deal with the insult of him being paid by BT Sport to give his views on the type of big decisions he constantly got wrong during his career!
2015- semi final
The Reds’ 2014-2015 league season was a huge disappointment following the previous season’s near miss, but the FA Cup looked capable of offering some respite.
The campaign began with a trip to AFC Wimbledon and the inevitable media obsession with 1988, completely ignoring the fact we’d faced Wimbledon in the FA Cup since then. A Steven Gerrard double helped us avoid a potential banana skin, before a replay and a late Coutinho beauty was needed to defeat Bolton.
A trip to Selhurst Park was negotiated in the fifth round, complete with Alberto Moreno comically trying to copy Daniel Sturridge’s goal celebration, before another replay and another Coutinho winner saw off to Blackburn.
That set up a semi final with Aston Villa. Coutinho once again gave us the lead, and Mario Balotelli had a late goal wrongly disallowed. But that doesn’t begin to tell the story as the Reds froze on the Wembley turf. Villa ran out deserved 2-1 winners and arguably there was no turning back as far as Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool reign was concerned after this dreadful defeat.
2016 – 4th round
With the Reds already in the semi finals of the League Cup and the knockout stages of the Europa League, the FA Cup was low down the list of Jürgen Klopp’s priorities as he tried to juggle his squad and deal with a long injury list in the early months of his Anfield reign.
One of the most inexperienced Liverpool teams ever to take the field survived a scare to earn a replay against League 2 Exeter City, before a routine Anfield win – complete with Ojo and Teixeira scoring the first ever Liverpool goals – set up a 4th round tie with West Ham.
Following a 0-0 draw at Anfield, the tie looked to be heading to penalties after a cheeky free kick from Coutinho had cancelled out Antonio’s opener.
But deep into extra time, West Ham were awarded the softest of free kicks and Ogbonna’s header ensured the Reds undeservedly left Upton Park (sorry – “the Boleyn”) empty handed.