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The Gordon Hill column: The beauty of the FA Cup

Former Manchester United and England midfielder Gordon Hill starts a new column today with a look at how the FA Cup has maintained its status as the world’s best cup competition.

Let us start with last weekend’s performances from Liverpool, Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal.

Well, what more can the FA Cup bring us? Liverpool demolishing Brighton 6-1, and Tottenham being held to a 0-0 draw at Stevenage. If I was to have predicted an upset, I would have thought Brighton could have given Liverpool a better game.

When the game started and was 1-1 after about 20 minutes, I thought here we go, Gus Poyet has come to Anfield with his young Brighton team to play but I was wrong. Liverpool did not have it all their own way though, and Brighton gifted them three own goals.

As we all knew, both Carroll and Suarez were struggling with their form and having a tough time. Let us not forget that Liverpool had spent a lot of money on these two.

As it turned out, they both managed to score. For me, they are still are not the finished article yet, but as we say in the game, a result is a result in the cup so Liverpool go through and Brighton go back to the Pier.

Underdogs

Tottenham against Stevenage was a great game to watch and a great advert for the FA Cup. That is why it is the best and most famous domestic cup in the world. The underdogs Stevenage against a high-flying Spurs - wow, that was a great result for Stevenage.

I would have said this could have been a high scoring game, but fair play to Stevenage. They held Spura to a 0-0 draw and are now heading for White Hart Lane. What a great money spinner for a lower league team.

That is what is so beautiful about the FA Cup: it allows smaller clubs to give it their all and play against the top teams in the country, to try to score an upset and get some well-earned extra revenue for the club.

I have always loved the FA Cup having been to two finals winning one and losing the other. I can always remember lifting the trophy and thinking 'well, we are the champions' especially beating the great Liverpool 2-1.

I think back to all the great teams that have won it and all the teams that have tried. Some big clubs and some smaller clubs: the beauty of the FA Cup.

Up and down

Oh dear, to me Arsenal are all up and down. They do not seem to have the consistency that we have come to expect from them, performing poorly in the Champions League in midweek, and then getting dumped out of the FA Cup by Sunderland.

I am not taking anything away from Sunderland, what Martin O'Neill has done is fantastic. In my opinion, Sunderland wanted it more than Arsenal and that showed. Arsenal have playmakers but they are not ready to control a game yet.

This is showing and I think it will only get harder for them. As for Sunderland they have a good chance of going to the final and I wish my friend Martin all the best for the next round.

Chelsea, another team built with a lot of money looking disorganised with no one guiding them. Normally you would go to Stamford bridge and it would be a case of how many goals are they going to score?

But Birmingham and Chris Hughton's men showed that they too wanted to play and win at the Bridge. It will be interesting in the replay at St Andrews to see if Chelsea can come back and show a little more organisation.

Gordon Hill was capped six times for England in the 1970s and made 132 appearances for Manchester United, scoring 51 goals. He scored both United goals in their 1976 FA Cup semi-final win against Derby and played in the Red Devils' 2-1 FA Cup final triumph against Liverpool in 1977.

He also played for Millwall, Derby, QPR and FC Twente and has played in Finland, the USA and Canada. He managed Chester City, Hyde United and Novia Scotia Clippers in the Canadian Soccer League.

He now owns and runs Texas-based club United FC


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