This weekend saw both semi finals of this year’s FA Cup played, deciding the two teams who will do battle on Saturday 11th May to take home the world’s oldest cup trophy. The two semi final ties took place at Wembley Stadium, with the two lowest placed teams of Millwall and Wigan squaring up on Saturday whilst the heavyweights of holders Chealsea and reigning Premier League champions Manchester City competed on Sunday.
Both ties were invariably big draws to the neutral, with Wigan looking to seal their first ever Wembley cup final appearance against a 2nd tier club punching well above their weight, and the weekend’s second semi final seeing two of the country’s biggest and most successful clubs fight for the other final berth. In the end the favourites emerged victorious in each game as Premier League Wigan despatched the relative minnows of Millwall in a comfortable 2-0 win whilst Manchester City overcame Chelsea 2-1 in an enthralling match in which Chelsea came close to forcing extra time.
The showpiece final in May will now see debutants Wigan Athletic take on the big spending juggernaut that is Manchester City in a match up that the bookies seem fairly confident will go the way of the Sky Blues. Early betting odds have Wigan as long as 7/1 to win their first ever FA Cup whilst the 2011 winners Manchester City are priced at a very short 1/4. On paper it would appear there is only one possible outcome but of course stranger things have happened than the unfancied underdogs emerging victorious, such as the famous 1988 final in which Wimbledon surprised Liverpool with a 1-0 win in their first and to date only FA Cup Final victory.
Of course since that great day out for Wimbledon some 25 years ago the finals have always gone the way of the favourites and this year’s final is probably as big a case of David v Goliath as we’ve seen since Manchester City’s last victory just two years ago when they beat Stoke City 1-0. Although Stoke’s mid table finish in the Premier League that season saw them closer in position to 3rd placed Manchester City than this season’s Wigan team are to the currently 2nd placed City team of 2013. However, in order to find the last time such a big gap was present between the FA Cup finalists we only have to go back one year further to the 2010 final which saw Premier League champions Chelsea easily overcome relegated Portsmouth by a margin of 1-0.
So whilst this season’s final may look to be a formality for Manchester City, eager to finish the season on a high having missed out in Europe and having little realistic chance of retaining their Premier League crown, let’s take nothing away from the eager Wigan fans who will be filling their coaches to Wembley and look set for a grand day out no matter what the result. In the northern club’s 81-year history they have never reached an FA Cup Final whereas Manchester City will be making their 10th appearance. For this reason it’s hard not to wish Wigan well and for most neutrals the very faint hope of their providing a memorable upset is reason enough to greet this year’s FA Cup Final with as much excitement as ever.[divider] [/divider]
Rich Donaldson is a blogger who lives and breathes football, writing about the sport he loves in between taking in games at the Colchester Community Stadium, home of his beloved Colchester United FC.