The Magic of the FA Cup is alive!
The FA Cup is the oldest football competition in the world. Predating the English Football League, the FA Cup has been played ever since 1872, over 150 years ago. Despite some critics claiming the the FA Cup has lost its shine, the competition has been extremely entertaining throughout this season’s campaign.
Unlike some cup competitions, we’ve been enthralled with this year’s FA Cup. We take a look at the 2022-23 FA Cup so far and preview the semi-finals of the competition.
We start by looking at one of the standout performers of the FA Cup in 2022-23, Sheffield United. The Blades have become the first non-Premier League side to make the semi-finals of the competition since 2015. That team eight years ago was also Sheffield United, when they were in League One as well.
The Red and Wizards have a habit of doing well in cup competitions, but this season’s run has been far from straightforward. The Fourth Round in particular, could’ve seen United drop out. The two games against National League side Wrexham were absolute thrillers and easily could’ve gone either way.
The contest was only brought to Bramall Lane thanks to an injury-time equaliser by John Egan. The visitors were down to ten men but the Blades fought back to give us a replay a few weeks later.
Wrexham did themselves and the National League proud, as the Welsh side went toe-to-toe with their Championship counterparts and didn’t look outclassed at all. It took two more injury time goals from United to win the contest, but Wrexham returned to North Wales with their heads held high.
Sheffield United would go on to beat Tottenham in the fifth round, despite playing a mostly back-up side. Another topsy-turvy encounter occurred for the sixth round, as United came from behind twice to beat fellow second-tier side Blackburn Rovers.
A Tommy Doyle rocket has sent United to Wembley to face Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. It’d be a miracle for the side from the Steel City to come out on top in this clash, but nobody would’ve given Wigan a chance of doing the same in 2013 and look what happened…
Another EFL side that has been defying expectations has been Grimsby Town. The Mariners didn’t gain much attention in this season’s FA Cup until the fifth round, when they faced Premier League outfit Southampton.
The Saints are struggling this season and seem destined to be relegated, but they sat three leagues and dozens of positions ahead of League Two Grimsby. It isn’t even like Grimsby are having a good league campaign, they’re sitting in lower mid table and probably won’t even make the play-offs.
On this day though, Grimsby were imperious, racing into a 2-0 lead and holding on for a memorable 2-1 victory at Saint Mary’s. Their reward for this fantastic performance was another trip to the South Coast and this time it was to Brighton.
Brighton are having a record-breaking season and were good value for their 5-0 win. The Mariners’ faithfull headed back up north proud though, their side will go down as producing one of the biggest FA Cup upsets this century.
What about the Semi-Finals?
The Manchester clubs are joining Sheffield United and Brighton and Hove Albion in the Semi-Finals in April. Both games will be played under the Wembley arch and will be played with a 90,000 capacity attendance.
Of course, both Manchester clubs are the favourites, but Manchester United will have to be wary of Brighton, who humbled them at Old Trafford earlier in the season. City should dismantle Sheffield United in the Saturday fixture, especially after they hit Burnley for six in the quarter finals.
Brighton could cause another upset and perhaps finally get revenge for the 1983 final. After a 2-2 draw in the first final, Manchester United steamrolled the Seagulls in the replay 4-0.
A Manchester Derby in the final would be a sight to behold as two of the top six and two of the Premier League’s in-form sides will fight it out again.
But, if we know anything about football, it’s that it’s predictably unpredictable and the FA Cup could still have a few surprises in it yet!
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