League One promotion chasers Wigan produced the biggest upset of this season’s FA Cup by dumping out the favourites Manchester City.
Paul Cook’s men ran out narrow 1-0 winners courtesy of another headline goal from Will Grigg.
In the process he not only inflicted City’s third defeat of the season but also ended their quest to become the first English club to attain the quadruple.
With that being said, here are five things we learned from this shock result, which proves again why the FA Cup is so magical.
Will Grigg’s on fire
It had to be him. Going into Monday’s fixture the popular Northern Ireland centre-forward sat on six FA Cup goals, level alongside Rochdale’s Ian Henderson, with many not expecting him to add to his total.
But, this is the FA Cup, and – pardon the cliche – anything is possible. Grigg, who became an international phenomenon back in 2016 following a catchy terrace chant, is enjoying his football once more and when the opportunity presented itself 11 minutes from time he wasn’t going to pass it up.
No such thing as a weak Man City team…
Such is Manchester City’s strength in depth you can’t ever accuse them of fielding a weakened side, and thus “disrespecting” the FA Cup, and manager Pep Guardiola has been prone to rotating his squad.
So far this season he’s used no fewer than 16 players in the world’s oldest cup competition with more than half of those (9) – Danilo, Kyle Walker, Fernandinho, Claudio Bravo, Ilkay Gundogan, Bernardo Silva, Leroy Sane, Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero – ever-present across City’s opening three round of fixtures.
And even with 10 men they were still a threat. On the stroke of half-time Fabian Delph, who has reinvented himself as a left-back, saw the red mist and received his marching orders following a reckless challenge on Wigan midfielder Max Power.
His dismissal incensed Guardiola, who reacted by substituting Walker on for Sane, and despite their numerical disadvantage they remained in control of the proceedings – having 82% of the possession – but they couldn’t blow Wigan’s house down.
Stones-Laporte partnership (from the start) debuts
Manchester City last month broke their transfer record by acquiring the services of Aymeric Laporte from Athletic Bilbao.
The 23-year-old French centre-back swapped the Basque Country for Manchester, after the Premier League leaders activated his £57 million buy-out clause.
A long-term partnership with John Stones, who is precisely one day younger than him, was strongly touted and tonight’s game at the DW Stadium saw them start together having shared nine minutes of playing time in City’s recent 5-1 victory over Leicester City.
Aside from being troubled early on, after Wigan produced two quality pieces of counter-attacking football, it was mostly a comfortable evening for the pair, before Grigg broke through.
Byrne shines and Wigan prove their defensive resoluteness
It’s not easy being a full-back when you have Leroy Sane to take care of. For the former Spurs academy graduate, Nathan Byrne, he had two options: either focus entirely on the German international or try and play his natural game.
He opted for the latter even if it meant sacrificing ground for Sane to run into. Byrne’s endeavour galvanised his teammates, who kept City at bay for 90 minutes, as well as putting himself in the shop window.
Aside from posing City some interesting questions, what must really please manager Paul Cook is how they fared in the periods when City were all over them like a cheap suit – they never gave them an inch aside from when Aguero burst through only to be spectacularly denied by Christian Walton in The Latics goal.
Now finding themselves in League One, having been a staple in the Premier League between 2005 and 2013, they’re on course for promotion back to the Championship, and tonight’s efforts were not out of character considering they’ve only shipped in 18 goals across their opening 30 league outings, no League One side comes close.
Wigan preserve their FA Cup home record
The 2012/13 FA Cup champions now go through to the quarter-finals to face Southampton – 24 hours after fellow League One outfit Rochdale held Tottenham Hotspur to a 2-2 draw at the Spotland Stadium.
The win tonight also saw them maintain a proud recent record of not tasting defeat in the competition at home. The run now stretches to nine matches, with their last loss coming against Bolton Wanderers in February 2011, in that period – with several different managers in charge – they’ve yielded seven wins and two draws.
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