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Posts Tagged ‘FA Cup’

Yesterday (Sunday) afternoon, Chelsea played Manchester City in the fifth round of the FA Cup. They thrashed a below-strength Man City 5-1, and so still have a chance to win some silverware this season. Quite a turn around after a disasterous start to their season, which saw José Mourinho sacked after players mutinied against him. 

 

It will be interesting to see whether there are any complaints or investigations into Manuel Pelligrini’s decision to field an under-strength team for this FA Cup clash. Certainly the Premiership takes a very dim view of such things, but maybe the FA accepts that the FA Cup is not a top team’s priority these days. 

Man City, of course, have their sights set on winning the Premiership and progressing in the Champions League. And, with Pep Guardiola set to replace Pelligrini in the summer, it is likely that they are a team which has a golden few years to come. Chelsea, meanwhile, have very little chance of finishing in the top four, so winning the FA Cup can provide some joy at the end of a tempestuous season. 

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It wasn’t a good weekend in the FA Cup for the teams I support. Manchester City got revenge for their League defeat to Chelsea (which I blogged about here), beating them comfortably 2-0. Man City completely outplayed Chelsea, particularly in mid-field, and just seemed more hungry to me than Chelsea. Mourinho had no complaints in the press conference afterwards, and nor should he have had. He is still claiming that he does not expect Chelsea to win the League this season, but I suspect in private he is saying something different.

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Meanwhile, being Welsh I also support the two Welsh clubs who play in the English Premier League and who had also got to the 5th round of the FA Cup, Cardiff City and Swansea City. Unfortunately they too both went down to defeats. Cardiff lost at home to last year’s winners Wigan Athletic, 2-1. Swansea went down 3-1 to Everton in an away game.

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This leaves me as a neutral for the remainder of the FA Cup. Arsenal also got revenge for their heavy 5-1 away defeat to Liverpool last weekend, beating them 2-1 at home. When I was a kid, the FA Cup was much more important to teams than the League, but that has changed now as the financial gains of finishing in the top four and qualifying for the Champions League are far greater than anything teams gain from winning the FA Cup. But, I still feel it is a special tournament, particularly when the final involves a side who are not in the Premiership. We shall see if any non-Premiership side gets to this year’s final.

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After a lacklustre 1-0 win over Stoke City at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea have drawn Manchester City at The Etihad Stadium in the 5th round of the FA Cup. Man City have not lost a single home game in all competitions this season, so this is a daunting tie for Mourinho and his team.

The current four top teams of the English Premier League; namely Arsenal, Man City, Chelsea and Liverpool, were all in the hat for the 5th round draw, along with 12 other teams. Remarkably, Chelsea drew Man City and Liverpool drew Arsenal. The fixtures in full are



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It is great to see the two Welsh teams who play in the EPL still in the competition. Cardiff have drawn last year’s winners Wigan at home, whilst Swansea have a tough away fixture against Everton, coached by Swansea’s ex-coach Martinez.

Cardiff are currently bottom of the EPL, and it’s always difficult to know whether a successful run in the FA Cup benefits a team when they are struggling in the League. Last year’s winners Wigan ended up being demoted from the EPL, and Cardiff would certainly want to avoid that.

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On April the 15th 1989, Liverpool football club were due to play Nottingham Forest in the semi-finals of the FA Cup. As is normal with semi-finals, the game was to be held at a neutral ground. The Hillsborough stadium, home of Sheffield Wednesday was chosen. The game never took place. Before the game, a tragedy unfolded.

96 Liverpool football fans died at the Hillsborough stadium in Sheffield, England. It remains the worst stadium disaster in British history, and one of the worst football disasters in the World.

A few days after the disaster, Britain’s best selling newspaper “The Sun” ran a cover story with the headline “The Truth”, The story said that Liverpool fans were responsible for the disaster, had been drunk and disorderly, stole from dead victims and even urinated on them.


The Sun "The Truth"

The front page of The Sun newspaper from April 1989, showing the article condemning Liverpool fans for their part in and behaviour during the Hillsborough tragedy. We now know the claims were untrue.


This week, previously secret documents relating to the Hillsborough disaster were released. They reveal an appalling cover up by the Police, doctors and, it would see, anyone else who could be held responsible for this appalling disaster. They also reveal that the Sun’s story was fabricated, in an apparently concerted attempt by various groups to shift blame for the disaster onto the Liverpool football fans. Only now, 23 years later, is the truth coming out that the Liverpool fans were, in fact, innocent victims of a series of errors and bad decisions by Sheffield City authorities, the Police and emergency officials.

I cannot begin to imagine how painful it must be to lose a loved one in such a tragedy. But, it must be twice as hard to have the blame for such a disaster put upon the very people who were innocent victims of it. What an appalling indictment of the cowardice of the authorities to not only try to avoid blame and criticism for their ineptidues, but to deliberately lie to shift the blame onto others.


Wreaths at Anfield in memory of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster

Wreaths at Anfield in memory of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster


Although the Prime Minister and a few others have apologised, I sincerely hope that those who lied during the offical Taylor enquiry will now face criminal prosecution for perjury and/or perverting the course of justice. Nothing can bring the loved ones who lost their lives back, but at least the families of those who died can gain some comfort from seeing the people who tried to cover up the reasons for this tragedy being prosecuted. This will be some level of justice.


Hillsborough disaster

A fan sits in the carnage left after the Hillsborough disaster of 1989.


Here is a video of a newsflash from the day of the disaster



Britain is very quick to condemn injustice and corruption in other countries, and yet here is clear evidence that such practices occur in the Disunited Kingdom too. The hypocrisy. The shame.

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On Tuesday evening (24th of January), Cardiff City football club won their semi-final of the League Cup (currently called the Carling Cup), beating Crystal Palace in a penalty shoot-out, after drawing 1-1 on aggregate after extra time. This puts them through to the final, where they will meet Liverpool, who beat Manchester City last night.

Amazingly, this will be Cardiff City’s fourth trip to Wembley Stadium, the home of English football, in 4 years. In 2008 they reached the final of the FA Cup, but were beaten by Portsmouth 1-0 (they beat Barnsley in the semi final which was also played there). In the 2009/10 season they reached the Football League Championship play-off final to gain the 3rd place promotion to the Premier League, but were beaten by Blackpool 3-2.

I only live about 2km from the new Cardiff City Stadium, and when Crystal Palace missed their penalty on Tuesday evening, I could hear the roar from the crowd. I am pleased for Cardiff City, as they have had a heartbreaking string of near misses over the last several seasons. In the 2008/09 season, they failed to make the play-offs for promotion to the Premier League by the narrowest of margins, only being placed below Preston on goals scored during the season, as even their goal difference was the same.

In the 2009/10 season, as mentioned above, their lost in the play-off final at Wembley to Blackpool, and in the 2010/11 season (last season), they again made the play-offs, but lost to Reading on aggregate in the 1st round of the play-offs.

They have also had to see their fiercest rivals, Swansea City, gain promotion to the Premier League last season. Although I grew up supporting Chelsea, as I now live in Cardiff I also support my local club, and my teenage son has a season ticket so goes to most Cardiff City home games.

The final of the League Cup is on the 26th of February, and Liverpool will be an interesting opposition. Until 2009, Liverpool were the most successful English football club in history, having won the old first division a record 18 times. This record was equalled and then surpassed by Manchester United in the 2008/09 and 2010/11 seasons. Liverpool have still won the European Cup more times than any other English (or British) football club, 5 times. Amazingly, they have not been to Wembley to play a final since 1996.

Given Cardiff City’s recent years of close misses, I am hopefully they can upset the expectations and beat Liverpool in a month’s time, and win their first major trophy since they won the FA Cup in 1927. We shall see.

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