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The FA Cup - The Jewel In The Crown?

By: Bill Osborne
Date: 23/05/2003

TODAY brings what was once the jewel in the crown of English football. The FA Cup. But over the past few years it has somewhat lost its 'magic' appeal to some clubs and supporters and represents no more than the finale to the season.

But not for everyone. Those of us who can look back over the years to some great finals will always have a special feeling for the FA Cup, and this year with Arsenal the firm favourite and Southampton the underdogs, it could turn out to be an exciting final for a change.

Too many over the last few years, have been almost boring to say the least but it seems that whenever a real 'underdog' is involved, the excitement increases and the game itself turns out to be one of the better finals in terms of entertainment.

Who can forget the 1987 final when Coventry City who were 10th in the league took on Tottenham Hotspur, who were 3rd in the league, which produced one of the most exciting contests with Coventry coming back from behind twice and scoring the winning goal in the last few minutes.

Could the final today produce a repeat of that game with Arsenal 2nd in the league and Southampton 8th?

Arsenal's manager, Arsene Wenger, who somewhat resembles Sergeant Schultz in 'Hogans Heroes' (I see notting!) should not feel too confident about his chances of winning.

He faces a very different Southampton today, led by manager Gordon Strachen, who was once described by the Coventry supporters as 'Freud's worst nightmare' who has dragged a team, whose sole objective over the past years has been to avoid the drop, back into the top 10 of the premier league by playing good football and beating some of the very best.

Cup Final day is a special day for football fans whichever club they support and is a day of peril for bookmakers who, in the past, have suffered their worst losses. So let us hope that today's game produces the excitement that this trophy deserves.

Who knows? Next year it could be Grimsby Town facing up to the league leaders or worse! That is the joy of the FA Cup. It is there for the taking no matter what division you are in and even in football miracles happen!

My bet is Southampton winning through a penalty goal in the second half with Wenger later saying his view of the foul was blocked!

I wouldn't miss it for quids!!

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