The Fiver | Arsenal, Newcastle and some proper old-school FA Cup embarrassment


There’s a faint irony in Arsenal taking to the pitch in crisp, clean, pristine, freshly laundered, all-white shirts only to end up touching cloth. The 14-time FA Cup winners went out meekly and messily at the first hurdle last night, thoroughly outplayed by Nottingham Forest. Left-back Nuno Tavares delivered not so much a performance, more a dirty protest, misplacing passes and shanking balls to such an extent that, upon being hooked after a mere 34 minutes, he was forced to theatrically yank off his gloves to prove to his manager he still possessed some basic motor skills. He’ll have better days. They surely can’t get any worse.

But while one of the country’s superclubs losing to a Championship side represents something of a mild surprise, the result doesn’t register as a massive shock. Nottingham Forest may have been down on their luck for two or three decades, but when all’s said and done, they’re still Nottingham Forest. Cambridge United, on the other hand, have only won six League One matches all season, yet on Saturday afternoon a club from the Premier League, the richest in the world, still managed to lose to them at home. Hey Arsenal, hold this bottle of Broon, will you.

Yes, it’s true that Newcastle United are not very good at the moment. Yes, you wouldn’t put too much money on them hitting the largest part of a cow with a ukulele. Yes, they haven’t won the cup since 1955. Yes, they’re the living embodiment of the quintessential cup shock, their defeat to Hereford in 1972 subsequently played on the BBC more times than the national anthem. Yet even though in many ways their defeat to a third-tier rabble was thoroughly predictable, it still classes as a proper old-school embarrassment. One for the ages. Speaking of which, the defeat ensures Newcastle’s 67-year wait for a domestic trophy drags on, though they might have a good chance of winning the Championship next year. Spare a thought for Yasir al-Rumayyan, who after the match gave the players he’ll soon replace a performative message of support, and might only now be realising what a scrape the Saudi Public Investment Fund has got itself into.


Join Scott Murray from 7.55pm GMT for hot FA Cup MBM coverage of Manchester United 2-1 Aston Villa.


“This is a person who three years later was still complaining about the referee in the 6-1. Get over it, Unai” – Gerard Piqué takes aim at Villarreal boss Unai Emery for dredging up an old handball decision involving the Barça defender when asked for his views on the state of La Liga referees.

“Get over it!”
“Get over it!” Photograph: Álex Cámara/NurPhoto/Shutterstock


Football Weekly looks back on a glorious weekend of FA Cup drama, from Cambridge to Kidderminster via the City Ground. Have a listen here.


“I love Ally McCoist as a co-commentator, but I was disappointed on Sunday to hear him refer to ‘Notts’ Forest in the FA Cup against Arsenal. It’s a good job that nobody links the name of his favourite club to one of their rivals” – Jim Hearson.

“You’ll no doubt recall my letter from 9 August, when I informed you that I had just picked up three of the Premier League’s five possible ‘aka’s for my fantasy league team (Wan-Bissaka, Bukayo Saka and Patson Daka). Predictably, my experiment (akasperiment?) did not go well. Saka has done great, but Daka hasn’t really played much and frankly I feel lucky to only have minus-five points from former footballer Wan-Bissaka. We had our mid-season auction last night and I jettisoned the latter two. Heed my warning” – Sholem Lenkiewicz.

Send your letters to And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … Jim Hearson.


Manchester City cannot be held responsible for the abuse suffered by eight men at the hands of Barry Bennell more than 30 years ago, a high court judge has ruled. The eight men are “shocked and dismayed” at the decision and plan to appeal, their solicitor confirmed after the verdict.

Zimbabwe were this close to getting a valiant 0-0 draw with tournament favourites Senegal. But then Sadio Mané popped up from 12 yards.

Barça-are-back latest: the Catalan club are able to register new signing Ferran Torres under Financial Fair Play rules after defender Samuel Umtiti agreed to an effective salary reduction as part of his contract extension. “FC Barcelona wishes to publicly express its gratitude to Samuel for his willingness,” a club statement fawned.

More than a signature.
More than a signature. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Bologna have responded angrily after Sunday’s game at Cagliari, postponed due to Covid-19 cases at the club, was rearranged for this Tuesday. The Serie A side have said the decision “shows contempt for the most elementary principles of competitive fairness,” with players in isolation unable to train before the match.

Federico Chiesa faces several months out after suffering knee-ligament knack in Juventus’ win over Roma. The Italy winger will undergo ACL surgery this week. But good news for West Ham: Kurt Zouma will boost their push for Champions League qualification by returning ahead of schedule from a hamstring twang!

And Kidderminster will host West Ham in the FA Cup fourth round, while fellow non-leaguers Boreham Wood go to Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest host the holders, Leicester City. Plus some less intriguing fixtures.


There were more than 10 games in the FA Cup third round but that hasn’t stopped 10 talking points from the weekend jumping on the bandwagon.

FA Cup fever, earlier.
FA Cup fever, earlier. Composite: Getty/PA/Rex

Tom Jenkins was at Boreham Wood’s win over Wimbledon and spotted a famous face in the crowd.

Bayern lost as the Bundesliga returned but the spectre of empty stands loomed over the weekend, writes Andy Brassell.

Sure, it might have had seven goals, a red card, a penalty, game-changing substitutions, VAR interventions, injuries and more, but what has Roma 3-4 Juventus ever done for us?

Niko Kovac took Monaco from relegation candidates to title contenders – so why on earth did they sack him, asks Adam White.

It’s not getting better for Newcastle yet, writes Ewan Murray.

Jonathan Wilson takes in the Afcon 2022 opener.

Jamie Jackson on Manchester United’s pressing problems.

Speaking of which – has Cristiano Ronaldo had enough of Old Trafford life already? It’s all in Monday’s Rumour Mill.

And if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!



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