March 10, 2008

FA Cup semi–final draw

Barnsley v Cardiff
West Brom v Portsmouth

Quite possibly the most interesting year for the FA cup in oooh, i don’t know how long.

The semis don’t disappoint either.

West Brom at home have every chance of beating Portsmouth and we might just see a final with no top flight team in it.

Not sure what this says about:

a)the quality of the lower leagues
b)whether premierships clubs are bothered with the FA cup.

Anyhoo – according to the BBC this will be the first year since 1995 that someone other than Arsenal, Man U, Liverpool or Chelsea has won the FA Cup.

Hearing that suddenly makes you realise how bloody dull English Football actually is.

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  1. Mathew Mannion

    whether premierships clubs are bothered with the FA cup.

    I’m not sure to what extent that’s true really. Everton, Blackburn and Bolton in the earlier rounds was downright embarrassing, but look at the teams that Man Utd and Chelsea put out at the weekend, as well as Liverpool’s team against Barnsley (and arguably Arsenal’s kinda weakened team against Man Utd) and you’ll see just how much of a shock it is. The United game on Saturday, in particular, bordered on farcical – a really lucky win for Portsmouth with some dubious decisions to boot.

    As for the quality of lower league opposition, that I’m not so sure about. Taking into account form, a bottom-five premiership team is equivalent or worse than a top-five Championship team (if West Brom win their two games in hand they will be top of the Championship), and Cardiff haven’t really come up against really testing opposition this year (Chasetown, Hereford, Wolves, Boro). Barnsley are probably the best team on form out of the lot in the last four and I hope they win it – they dominated Chelsea after matching Liverpool.

    Makes me sad to be a Mansfield fan, mind. Had Huth been sent off for Middlesborough for a dropkick in the fifth round we could have some League Two action in the semis…

    10 Mar 2008, 14:46

  2. Allan Smith

    When you look at the sides that Chelsea and Man Utd put out this weak, you couldn’t really accuse them of taking it too easy; the sickening thing is that if we hadn’t capitulated against West Brom, the cup would almost be there for the taking.

    Maybe next year…

    10 Mar 2008, 14:47

  3. “Taking into account form, a bottom-five premiership team is equivalent or worse than a top-five Championship team “

    As a Bristol City fan I am counting on that statement being true!

    If I were Everton I think i’d be kicking myself about now. The way things have panned out if they’d have made the effort it could have been for the taking.

    I think with the strong/weak team thing, you can put out a strong team and still get a ‘not bothered’ performance.

    10 Mar 2008, 14:55

  4. Mathew Mannion

    I think with the strong/weak team thing, you can put out a strong team and still get a ‘not bothered’ performance.

    True, and that may have been evident with Chelsea yesterday with some players (although their onslaught in the last 15 minutes certainly didn’t lack any effort against a tiring Barnsley) and Arsenal in the last 16, but I don’t really think the same can apply to Man Utd, Liverpool or Middlesborough (don’t be fooled by how terrible Middlesborough were, they’re always like that)

    10 Mar 2008, 15:02

  5. Paul

    ‘West Brom at home have every chance of beating Portsmouth’

    Both matches will be played at Wembley, so no team will have home advantage. The Wembley pitch should be in better condition than what Cardiff or Barnsley are used to.

    10 Mar 2008, 15:11

  6. oops – good point well made!

    I have a mental blank about semi-finals at Wembley – it just shouldn’t happen in a sane Universe.

    Having said that the big pitch and good surface should make WBA v Pmouth a really good game.

    10 Mar 2008, 15:20

  7. Most interesting year? Sounds like you have underdog syndrome. I can’t think of anything more boring than watching West Brom vs Portsmouth on my Saturday afternoon as a neutral. Man Utd vs Liverpool? Yes please, and i’m a gooner!

    10 Mar 2008, 16:34

  8. Oh dear oh dear Rupert – not an fan of the lower leagues then.

    Look, i can appreciate the football of the top 4 and enjoy watching them play but surely for once having a major trophy go to a club other than Liverpool, Man U, Arsenal or Chelsea has to be just the shot in the arm English football was after.

    And I don’t count the league cup… or FA youth trophy if you follow the Arsenal…

    No, really – i think I would rather watch WBA vs Portsmouth than yet another overhyped battle of the big four.

    I remember reading an interesting post somwhere once about which was the most boring league in the world, and actually most of what you would consider to be ‘the big leagues’ are really dull as essentially you have a very small group of teams who can actually win them. The Championship is soooooo close this season and is much more interesting than who’s going to share the spoils this year for the Premiership.

    I mean, how crappy is it when everyone is getting excited that someone other than Liverpool might actually finish 4th?

    This year’s FA Cup has been a joy.

    10 Mar 2008, 17:16

  9. Allan Smith

    It’s coming up to 13 years since the FA Cup or league was won by a side not named Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal or Liverpool; so this is a godsend.

    No matter what the final ends up being, there’s absolutely no chance we’ll see a final anywhere near as poor as last year’s snoozefest; plus you’ve got a new entrant into next year’s UEFA Cup and possibly the first time an English manager will have won anything substantial since Joe Royle (disregarding the League Cup, as many teams do)

    10 Mar 2008, 22:17

  10. Dave

    I take it you like prawn sandwiches as well rupert??

    are we not bored of how sanitised premiership football is yet? almost every game between the “big 4” seems to be a massive let down, with both sides cancelling each other out for fear of losing when the stakes are so high. how many times have we seen liverpool vs chelsea in the last few seasons and how many games stand out as thrilling? none!! the championship may be a lower standard but it’s genuinly more exciting as every side can beat each other. i for one look forward to seeing a game between real teams, portsmouth included it will make a refreshing alternative, although i guess the plastic fans will be spending their day elsewhere.

    11 Mar 2008, 08:05

  11. Mathew Mannion

    plus you’ve got a new entrant into next year’s UEFA Cup

    Unless Cardiff win, as they are not allowed to represent England.

    11 Mar 2008, 10:26

  12. Allan Smith

    I heard about that today; it seems a little ridiculous to me that Welsh clubs can contest English leagues and the national cup, but not represent the league against Brann and Genk.

    11 Mar 2008, 12:46

  13. But when Millwall made it to the final, somebody decided that they wouldn’t have been allowed into Europe if they had won. I can see the same convenient ruling coming into play here, so Portsmouth should expect to make Europe next season given the position they’re in in the league as well.

    I managed to remember that the 1995 winners were Everton (who beat Man Utd 1-0), but then you have to go back to 1991 to find the next non-big-four winner (Spurs, 1991, beating Forest) and 1988 to find the winner before that (Wimbledon, 1988, over Liverpool). The last Cup final not to mention one of Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool, Man Utd or Spurs? 1975: West Ham v Fulham.

    11 Mar 2008, 13:53

  14. Allan Smith

    Didn’t Millwall play in Europe the following season? I thought they qualified as Man Utd were already in the Champions League.

    11 Mar 2008, 14:35

  15. My bad, you’re quite right Allan – I thought they gave the place to somebody else. I must have been too busy thinking about my final year to notice. :(

    12 Mar 2008, 12:19

  16. Ipswich are another team who have played UEFA Cup football from outside the top flight in recent history. I am a Reading fan, and after a very exciting first season am finding myself entirely disillusioned with the Preimer League. The Championship offers a considerably more level playing field with a very decent of standard football, and the promotion race is always a captivating affair. Money rules in the Premier League, and those who have it hoard it. When Dave Kitson suggested that the FA Cup was not worth the effort, since the big clubs inevitably win it every year, I agreed with him whole-heartedly. This year’s competition has reignited my love for the competition, and I am absolutely delighted to have been proven wrong on that count.

    13 Mar 2008, 19:39

  17. fuck me, that was a typo nightmare. apologies.

    13 Mar 2008, 19:40

  18. Steven Sherlock

    It’s pretty harsh on Cardiff that they wouldn’t get to play in Europe if they win. Why bother letting them enter the cup if you’re not going to let them collect the reward. The English FA really are a bunch of arses.

    28 Mar 2008, 14:50

  19. As a West Brom fan I’m hyper excited about the semi-finals and will be watching with baited breath. I always think it’s good to see lower league clubs at this stage so to have 4 so called underdog teams is a breath of fresh air and can only be good for the game.

    Sadly for West Brom, the league is our greatest priority and automatic promotion is becoming a distant possibility. I can see us putting out a strong team in the FA Cup because we have a chance of winning it, but most of our players will be fatigued from playing almost 3 games a week and giving it our all in league games.

    31 Mar 2008, 10:53

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