5 reasons why we love the FA Cup
The FA Cup is the longest running club competition in the history of football. With exception of the war years from 1939 until 1945, no year since 1871 has passed without an FA Cup winner being crowned.
In contrast to the debatable League Cup, currently named Carabao Cup, any team from the 10th division upwards that is registered in the English Football League can try their luck at winning the competition, provided they meet the necessary criteria.
Whilst cup matches, in general, have a certain flair about them that just gives them that extra element of excitement, the FA Cup has proven to be one of the most wide-open competitions in European football of recent times.
While Arsenal has won the competition in three of the last four years, there have only been two clashes of the dominant top six of the Premier League in the last ten FA Cup finals.
However, sometimes the way to the supposed climax of the competition is even more interesting than the final itself. Yesterday, fourth division side Newport County held Tottenham to a draw and forced a replay, while third-tier side Wigan Athletic sent West Ham United packing.
After already defeating Bournemouth 3-0 in the third round, the Latics have already registered their second Premier League scalp of this season's competition by knocking the Hammers out of the competition.
Therefore, after another eventful day of FA Cup action, we take a look at the five reasons why we love this competition so much.
The FA Cup is arguably the most prestigious cup competition in the world, meaning that the stakes are high, even for the top clubs. While the League Cup is often regarded as a competitive framework for testing your back-up players and young talents, the FA Cup is too important to justify this.
Whether top six club or a team from the lower leagues, victory in the FA Cup comes along with a lot of pride and is often regarded as a valid way of salvaging a campaign. If Arsenal hadn't won this competition multiple times in the past years, Arsene Wenger's days at the Emirates may have been numbered.
Additionally, there is a sense of urgency when favourites face off against lower-tier teams, as a draw results in a replay rather than extra time and penalties. Particularly teams that are still competing in Europe want to avoid the infamous replay match because it just adds further congestion to their already packed schedules.
Especially in tight games, this pressure becomes increasingly visible and often leads to somewhat frantic finishes to FA Cup matches, making them all the more interesting.