Brighton will take to the Wembley pitch this afternoon for only the fifth time in their illustrious history as they take on Manchester City for a place in the FA Cup final. Manchester City are heavy favourites as they look to keep their quadruple hopes alive but the Seagulls will be enjoying their big day out.
The FA Cup is a historic competition but even it’s biggest fans must admit it is not the competition it once was. It used to be one of the only televised games of the season and the pinnacle of club football but now, in this modern era where you can watch almost every game, anywhere in the world, its importance has fallen slightly.
The importance of finishing in the top four and the financial benefit that Champions League football brings often means managers of the big clubs prioritise the Premier League over the chance of winning some silverware. This leads to big-name players being rested in the early rounds and often big clubs going out early, like Liverpool did this season.
However, this brilliant competition also provides those mid-table Premier League clubs, who are unlikely to qualify for Europe or get relegated, a real chance of winning a trophy and going to Wembley. That is exactly what we have seen this season with Brighton, Wolves and Watford.
Chris Hughton’s men have battled their way through replays, extra-time and a penalty shootout to make it to this stage but now they have been given their reward of a day out in the capital and the chance to win this trophy for the first time. Wolves have won this competition four times but shown this season they can beat any of the big six and will fancy their chances of winning this competition have dumped out Liverpool in Round Three.
On the same train of thought, Watford have been incredibly impressive this year and will be trying desperately to win this competition for the first time ever. This is what the FA Cup is about. Sides trying to win the competition for the first time, playing passionately whilst the big boys falter in the earlier rounds.
Other clubs should take note of the FA Cup semi-finalists this season and prioritise this competition themselves, as whoever wins the famous trophy this season we will have a real story on our hands. City will kick themselves if they don't win it against the sides left in, but they all deserve huge credit for making it to this stage.