THE BEAUTY OF THE FA CUP
It is the trophy that prolonged Arsene Wenger’s stay at Arsenal and the trophy that won Roberto Martinez the Everton job. It gave Di Matteo the Chelsea job on a full-time basis and it saved Van Gaal’s reputation despite his eventual sacking. It is Harry Redknapp’s biggest achievement (alongside Bale’s emergence) and the trophy that kick-started Man City’s dominance in English football. The FA Cup is a magical trophy…and it is back in 2019.
Going over the previous paragraph, a number of things will stick out. You have the most successful club in the competition (Arsenal), a manager who is primed for a bigger job (Eddie Howe of Bournemouth), an interim manager who could become a permanent fixture (Solskjaer at Man United), a manager who really needs to justify spending a lot of money (Silva at Everton) and a club that needs a trophy to match its talent (Tottenham). See what I did there? Genius right? I know. Thank you. You’re far too kind.
Ok. As earlier mentioned, the FA Cup is back and there are mouth-watering matches to note. First off is the all-EPL clash between Bournemouth and Brighton, with both teams feeling really pissed that they have to play in ANOTHER ‘EPL’ clash (as if the ones they’ve been playing in are not enough). However, we will get to see some of their fringe players on show (Locadia, Mousett, Ibe, Jahanbakhsh etc.) and so it might make for a good viewing.
Elsewhere, it looks like business as usual as Chelsea, Man United, and Arsenal are up against lower division opponents, although Arsenal fans will be happy that they got Blackpool, who are further down the pecking order. Man United will be confident as they face a Reading side who are in the worst form of late; a huge contrast to what the Red Devils are experiencing. Chelsea’s form seems kinda similar to Nottingham Forrest so I’m not sure what to expect. Furthermore, Forrest will be on a high after beating Championship leaders Leeds in their last outing so Chelsea have to be careful.
Giant-killing is a major feature of this competition. There are few tournaments that give you eye-opening results like Liverpool losing to Wimbledon in 1988, Man City losing to Wigan in 2013, and even Man United losing to Portsmouth in 2008. This year will be no different. West Ham, Burnley and Newcastle are in danger of falling short to lower-division opponents Birmingham, Barnsley, and Blackburn. Birmingham and Barnsley are in good form while Blackburn have a knack for picking their moments, especially when they are the underdogs (just ask West Brom).
It gets fiery very early in this competition, and I have no doubt that this year will bring about another magical experience for us. The pool of contenders has increased this year; Tottenham and Liverpool need a trophy, Sarri and Emery will have an eye on it too. Let’s not forget that this is only trophy that Guardiola hasn’t won in England so expect fireworks in 2019.