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Discussion Starter #1
It's been a long month since United
got spectacularly knocked out of the
FA Cup by Portsmouth - but we'll have
to live with it.

This weekend the Cup is back again
and all eyes will be on Wembley for
the most unlikely line-up of semi-finals
contenders in modern history -
Portsmouth, Cardiff, West Brom and
Barnsley.

With the so-called Big-Four dominating
the competition for the last decade or
so, many pundits argue that this is the
most exciting competition for many years
- but do you agree?

Tell us what you reckon
 

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I'm definitely still interested in the Cup. Personally I'm one of the multitude who've jumped mind, body and soul aboard the "Barnsley for the Cup!" train. To be honest If I could pick the team I want to lose, I want Portsmouth out of the cup. I'm not seeking vengeance :eek:, I admire Portsmouth a great deal and I have a very high opinion of Redknapp and what he's done with Portsmouth. His signings have been inspired, Defoe, Diarra, you have to wonder how does he get these people and he's a quiet achiever. No, the reason I want Portsmouth out is because deep down I'm a Cup romantic. For me the next best thing to United winning a Cup is watching two minnows charge to the finals. I'm going for Barnsley to beat West Brom in the final. Go Barnsley! :D
 

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Im interested because Cardiff are there and im welsh would love to see them win it but im sure pompey should overpower everyone.
 

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FA Cup Semi-Final Preview: History In The Making

Depending upon your point of view, this weekend sees either the most exciting or the least compelling pair of FA Cup semi-finals in the venerable competition's distinguished history.

The fact that not one of the last four in the world's oldest knock-out competition is from English football's self-styled aristocracy has polarised opinion. On the one hand there are those romantics who view such an outcome as a glorious vindication of the FA Cup's capacity for upsets; on the other hand there are the cynics who see the absence of even one of the Premier League's 'Big Four' as evidence of the declining importance of the Cup. Then there are the critics of English football self-righteously declaring that three Championship teams in the last four merely proves their point that the Premier League lacks quality.

Personally, and at the risk of sounding patronising, I believe the achievements of Portsmouth, West Bromwich Albion, Barnsley and Cardiff City in going further in this year's competition than the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool is a refreshing shot in the arm and just what was needed to banish, at least temporarily, the monotony of the usual suspects carving up the honours between their well-heeled selves.

The Cup shock is alive and well and a cause for celebration. This year's last four may not be the most glamorous quartet in world football but they are there on merit. Get over it.

Portsmouth and their fans may find it surreal to be the Premier League's sole survivors and thus favourites to win the FA Cup, but the results that have brought them and the three Championship sides this far have enhanced rather than diminished the Cup's appeal. And let's face it, the famous old competition has taken enough knocks to its reputation in recent years.

For the record, this is the first time in a century that only one top-flight club has reached the FA Cup semi-finals. West Bromwich can make further history by knocking out Portsmouth, which would guarantee an all-Championship final. That would be the first time since the League was formed in 1888 that both FA Cup finalists had come from outside the top division.

Venue of Legends?

If the identity of the four semi-finalists is controversial, the choice of the new Wembley Stadium as the venue for both semi-finals and the final is contentious. The feeling is that naked commercialism - good old-fashioned greed, if you like - on the part of the FA is behind a crass scheduling decision that devalues the occasion of the final itself. The argument is that that the obscene overspend on the construction of Wembley has forced the FA to exploit every opportunity to claw back some revenue, and the semi-finals - traditionally staged at venues like Old Trafford and Villa Park - are too good an opportunity to miss. The magic of a Wembley FA Cup final was its uniqueness; staging too many lesser occasions there is regarded by many as a form of pernicious inflation.

Again, without wishing to patronise, it is questionable whether the fans of four clubs whose opportunities to go to Wembley have been somewhat limited in recent years will see the possibility of two trips there in a little over a month as a problem.

Past Glories

Ironically, all four semi-finalists have a proud FA Cup pedigree. They have all won the trophy before. West Brom are the most recent winners, having beaten Everton 1-0 in the 1968 final to lift the Cup for the fifth time. In fact Albion have appeared in ten finals altogether, though only two since the Second World War. Five of their appearances were at the back-end of the 19th century when such things as Premier Leagues, Bosman free transfers, players earning 50 thousand pounds or more a week and even Wembley Stadium itself were beyond even the most fanciful Victorian imaginations.

Barnsley's great claim to FA Cup fame was winning the competition in 1912, when they beat, coincidentally, West Brom - two years after losing in the final to Newcastle. Arguably, their achievements this season in disposing of both Liverpool and Chelsea have been considerably greater, given the staggering gulf in wealth and resources that now exists between the Premier League elite and lower league also-rans.

As for Cardiff City and Portsmouth, both hold special places in FA Cup folklore. One of the competition's great quiz questions is: when was the only time the trophy was taken out of England? The answer of course is 1927, when Cardiff beat Arsenal in a final that saw the only goal squirm from the grasp of Arsenal's (Welsh) goalkeeper, Dan Lewis. From that day, every new goalkeeper's jersey has been washed before wear by Arsenal, as it was claimed that the shiny new surface of the fabric contributed to Lewis's mishap. Not that Cardiff's (Scottish) match-winner, Hugh Ferguson, cared, as his captain, the chain-smoking Fred Keenor, lifted the Cup before putting it on a train heading out of the country. Two years earlier, the trip back to Wales had been more sombre, the Bluebirds having lost 1-0 to Sheffield United.

Another popular quiz question is: which club held the FA Cup for longest? And the answer is Portsmouth, beaten finalists in 1929 and 1934, who sprung one of the great pre-war upsets by defeating highly-fancied Wolverhampton Wanderers 4-1 in the 1939 final. Wolves were 5 to 1 on favourites and had finished runners-up to Everton in the League, while Pompey had just avoided relegation. Wolves boasted the meanest defence and Pompey the poorest attack in the First Division that season, but the South Coast club produced a shock by thrashing Wolves on the day.

The Second World War broke out a few months later and it fell to holders Pompey to look after the Cup for the duration of hostilities - until it was contested again in 1945-46. Thus Portsmouth had held the Cup for seven fateful years.

The Road To The Semis

This season, as the great and the good and the mediocre of English football have fallen by the wayside, Portsmouth, West Brom, Barnsley and Cardiff have steadily progressed through the rounds and are now just 90 minutes (or 120 minutes and possibly penalties, if needed) from the globally televised FA Cup final. Their respective routes to the final have been as follows:

West Bromwich Albion

Third Round: v Charlton Ath (A) DREW 1-1

Replay: v Charlton Ath (H) DREW 2-2 aet (WON 4-3 on penalties)

Fourth Round: v Peterborough Utd (A) WON 3-0

Fifth Round: v Coventry City (A) WON 5-0

Sixth Round: v Bristol Rovers (A) WON 5-1

Portsmouth

Third Round: v Ipswich Town (A) WON 1-0

Fourth Round: v Plymouth Argyle (H) WON 2-1

Fifth Round: v Preston North End (A) WON 1-0

Sixth Round: v Manchester United (A) WON 1-0

Barnsley

Third Round: v Blackpool (H) WON 2-1

Fourth Round: v Southend Utd (A) WON 1-0

Fifth Round: v Liverpool (A) WON 2-1

Sixth Round: v Chelsea (H) WON 1-0

Cardiff City

Third Round: v Chasetown (A) WON 3-1

Fourth Round: v Hereford Utd (A) WON 2-1

Fifth Round: v Wolverhampton Wanderers (H) WON 2-0

Sixth Round: v Middlesbrough (A) WON 2-0

West Bromwich Albion - Portsmouth

Who: West Brom (4th, Championship, 67/120 pts) v Portsmouth (6th, Premier League, 53/96 pts)

When: Saturday, 5th April, Kick-off: 1215

Where: Wembley Stadium

Referee: Howard Webb (South Yorkshire)

Team News

Baggies' boss Tony Mowbray has no new injury or suspension worries. Only Filipe Teixeira is definitely sidelined by injury, though on-loan Luke Moore is ineligible as he has already featured in the competition this season for his parent club, Aston Villa.

Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp will make late decisions on the fitness of Hermann Hreidarsson (Achilles) and John Utaka (hamstring). Unfortunately for Redknapp, in-form striker Jermain Defoe is cup-tied, so Kanu will lead the attack for Pompey, who have Sulley Muntari and Papa Bouba Diop back after suspension.

Last Starting-XI

West Brom (0-0 v Cardiff away): Kiely, Hoefkens, Albrechtsen, Clement, Robinson, Koren (Phillips 74), Greening, Gera (Brunt 67), Pele, Morrison, Miller (Bednar 66). Subs Not Used: Danek, Barnett.

Portsmouth (2-0 v Wigan home): James, Johnson, Campbell, Distin, Hreidarsson (Lauren 63), Utaka (Hughes 71), Davis, Pedro Mendes, Kranjcar, Baros (Nugent 67), Defoe. Subs Not Used: Ashdown, Mvuemba.

Form Guide (League)

West Bromwich Albion

01 Apr v West Brom (A) DREW 0-0

29 Mar v Colchester Utd (H) WON 4-3

21 Mar v Charlton Ath (A) DREW 1-1

15 Mar v Leicester City (H) LOST 1-4

12 Mar v Crystal Palace (H) DREW 1-1

Portsmouth

29 Mar v Wigan Ath (H) WON 2-0

22 Mar v Tottenham (A) LOST 0-2

15 Mar v Aston Villa (H) WON 2-0

12 Mar v Birmingham (H) WON 4-2

02 Mar v Everton (A) LOST 1-3
 

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Match Background

* Portsmouth are in the last four for the sixth time, seeking a fourth appearance in the final, and a second FA Cup triumph to go with their 1939 success.

* Five-times winners West Brom are in their 20th semi-final and hoping to reach the final for the 11th time. Only Arsenal and Manchester United (25 each), Everton (23) and Liverpool (22) have been semi-finalists more often.

* The Baggies twice knocked out Portsmouth on their way to winning the Cup (1931 and 1968).

* Portsmouth beat West Brom during their successful 1939 campaign, 69 years ago.

* Portsmouth are 18 places higher than West Brom in the league standings.

* West Brom have one win in their last five games, but only one defeat in eight (all competitions).

* This is Albion's first appearance in the semi-finals since losing 1-0 to Queen's Park Rangers at Highbury on 3rd April, 1982.

* Albion are taking on a Premier League club for the first time in this Cup run.

* Baggies' boss Tony Mowbray played at Wembley eight years ago in one of the last domestic games at the old Wembley. He opened the scoring for Ipswich in his last game for the Suffolk club, who beat Barnsley 4-2 in the First Division Play-Off final in May 2000 to secure Premier League football.

* Albion were the first and only club to win promotion to the top-flight and the FA Cup in the same season (1931).

* West Brom were also the first club to win the FA Cup with a team comprised wholly of locally-born English players (1888).

* Portsmouth have won seven of their last nine games in (all competitions).

* This is Pompey' best FA Cup run since they lost to Liverpool in a 1992 semi-final, on penalties after extra-time.

* Manager Harry Redknapp has never won the FA Cup as a manager. His sole Cup success was winning the Intertoto with West Ham in 1999.

Key Players

West Brom - Kevin Phillips
Portsmouth - Niko Kranjcar

Barnsley - Cardiff City

Who: Barnsley (21st, Championship, 46/120 pts) v Cardiff (12th, Championship, 45/120 pts)

When: Sunday, 6th April, Kick-off: 1600 BST

Where: Wembley Stadium

Referee: Alan Wiley (Staffordshire)

Team News

Barnsley are without defender Stephen Foster because of a badly bruised foot. Foster, 27, scored the first goal in the Tykes' 2-1 win at Liverpool.

Cardiff could be without forwards Paul Parry and Steve Thompson, both of whom suffered hamstring strains during Tuesday's draw with West Brom. Another striker, Warren Feeney, is cup-tied after playing in earlier rounds on loan to Swansea.

Last Starting-XIs

Barnsley (1-2 v Burnley away): Steele, Foster, Souza, Nyatanga, Kozluk, Campbell-Ryce (Coulson 78), Howard, Hassell, Leon (Odejayi 63), Nardiello, Macken. Subs Not Used: Ferenczi, Devaney, Van Homoet.

Cardiff (0-0 v West Brom home): Enckelman, McNaughton, Loovens, Johnson, Capaldi, Rae, McPhail, Ledley, Sinclair, Parry (Whittingham 48), Thompson (Feeney 45), Feeney (Scimeca 54). Subs Not Used: Oakes, Purse.

Form Guide (League)

Barnsley

29 Mar v Burnley (A) LOST 1-2

22 Mar v Sheff Utd (H) LOST 0-1

15 Mar v Crystal Palace (A) LOST 0-2

11 Mar v Ipswich Town (H) WON 4-1

04 Mar v Blackpool (A) DREW 1-1

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Cardiff City

01 Apr v West Brom (H) DREW 0-0

29 Mar v Southampton (H) WON 1-0

22 Mar v Bristol City (H) WON 2-1

15 Mar v Colchester Utd (A) DREW 1-1

12 Mar v Hull City (H) WON 1-0

Match Background

* Barnsley and Cardiff City meeting ensures at least one club from the Championship will be in the FA Cup final.

* Either could become the first club outside the top-flight to win the FA Cup since West Ham achieved the feat in 1980.

* Barnsley are in the last four for only the third time in their history - and the first time since they won the trophy nine days after the Titanic was sunk.

* Cardiff are in the semi-finals for the fourth time in their history, and first since their famous 1927 triumph.

* Cardiff are nine places higher than Barnsley in the Championship table.

* Barnsley have lost their last three Championship matches, after going five unbeaten in league and cup.

* Tykes manager Simon Davey was a midfielder with Swansea, Carlisle, Preston and Darlington. The 37-year-old in his second season in charge of Barnsley. It was his first managerial appointment.

* Barnsley's first semi-final appearance was as a Second Division club in 1910, when they drew 0-0 with top-flight Everton at Elland Road before winning the replay 3-0 at Old Trafford. In the final they met First Division Newcastle at Crystal Palace and drew 1-1, before losing the replay at Goodison Park 0-2.

* Barnsley's second and most recent appearance in the last four was in 1912, when again as a Second Division club they played Swindon of the Southern League at Stamford Bridge, drawing 0-0 before winning the replay at Meadow Lane, 1-0. They also needed a replay against First Division West Brom in the final after a goalless 90 minutes at Crystal Palace. Harry Tufnell scored the only goal at Bramall Lane in extra time, and Barnsley won the Cup for only time to date.

* Cardiff are undefeated in seven, having won four and drawn three in League and Cup.

* Cardiff boss Dave Jones nearly took Stockport County to Wembley in 1996-97. They lost the League Cup semi-final to Middlesbrough, 1-2 on aggregate.

* The Bluebirds have been FA Cup semi-finalists three times, in 1921 (lost to Wolves in a replay at Old Trafford), 1925 (beat Blackburn 3-1 at Meadow Lane), and 1927 when they beat Reading 3-0 at Molineux.

* This season's League fixture at the Oakwell was a 1-1 draw on 29th September. Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink opened the scoring after 73 minutes, with Brian Howard equalising six minutes from time.

Key Players
Barnsley - Kayode Odejayi
Cardiff - Aaron Ramsey
 

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Can't be bothered to be honest. None of the teams playing Interest me. Probably will be a boring final. Not as Interesting if 1 of the Big teams aren't playing.
 
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I hope Cardiff get to the final because if they do
I'll be off down to Wales with my brother in law
to watch it with him and his mates.

The atmosphere in Cardiff will be brilliant so I can't
wait to go if they catually make it to the final :)
 

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-zuco- said:
I hope Cardiff get to the final because if they do
I'll be off down to Wales with my brother in law
to watch it with him and his mates.

The atmosphere in Cardiff will be brilliant so I can't
wait to go if they catually make it to the final :)
yeh but it aint good news that they cant play in europe if they win it . The reason being there a guest in the fa cup and by doing so forfit the right to qualify for european compertition it was in the paper
 

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I dont really care we are not in it, We were unlucky to lose against Pompey- But thats football for you :D

Pompey beat WestBrom 1-0 today without playing at their best at all, they will either meet Barnsley or Cardiff in the final.. Im not bothered who wins

BECAUSE I KNOW


We will be back next season to claim the cup ;p
 

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It was very frustrating to see Pompey play so badly and still get through.
If you look back through all the games they have played in this season's
FA cup they have been crap and got out of jail so many times.
Its nice for Harry to get to a final and good luck to them but they dont
deserve to be there imo. Maybe Im still a bit bitter.
 

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I can't be bothered to watch it.It going to be too burdening when i have other things to do.Barnsley for the cup.They deserve it the most
 

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Now that West Brom are out aswel, i really couldnt give two hoots about this Cup.

If i had to pick a tream to win id go with Barnsley just cos they knocked out l'pool and chelsea.
 
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