The FA Cup

Here are the teams remaining in the hunt for the FA Cup, world football’s most prestigious cup competition:

  1. Middlesbrough or Cardiff City
  2. Portsmouth
  3. Bristol Rovers or West Bromwich Albion
  4. Barnsley

The mighty have fallen by the wayside this year, and the typical “romance” story of each year’s competition is shared by an astonishing 6 non-Premier League sides. The last time such an unfancied squad made it to the semi finals was Wycombe Wanderers in 2000-2001 (defeated by the eventual winnders Liverpool). I thought I might briefly explore the “form” of each side in contention:

  • Gareth Southgate’s Boro are langushing a bid in midtable in the Premiership only 4 points clear of the relegation zone, and have struggled in front of goal following the departure of Mark Viduka to Newcastle (where, ironically, he seems to be doing worse)
  • Cardiff City are midtable in the Championship (the division below the Premier League), but with former Premiership strikers Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Robbie Fowler in their squad would be capable of anything
  • Pompey (who defeated Manchester United at Old Trafford yesterday) are 9th in the Premiership and have been reasonably consistent this year; they’re still in the running for a place in Europe by virtue of their league position.
  • Bristol Rovers are down in League 1 (the division below the Championship) in 17th place
  • West Brom seem to have spent their time yo-yoing between the Premiership and Championship, and are 4th in the Championship currently, with former Sunderland and Southampton striker Kevin Phillips the league’s top scorere with 17 goals.
  • Chelsea’s conquerors Barnsley are 19th in the Championship.

In reality, it’s very difficult to pick the winner out of these, but of the 6 teams remaining, the last of them to lift the Cup was West Brom some 40 years ago. Such helps the outsider to see how the big teams have been so dominant in the years since then. If they won this year it would be the 6th time the Baggies have done so.

Assuming that the higher ranked teams go forward to the semis in the 2 games to be played tomorrow Sydney time, it will be intriguing to see how the teams are drawn – whether the 2 Premiership sides will face each other, or if they will be drawn against the lower ranked opponents. For the sake of the romance of the FA Cup, I hope the former, since it will guarantee one of the non-Premiership teams the chance to step out onto Wembley Stadium on 17 May.

I was going to write up something about this, but h/t Steve since his little ditty prompted me.

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