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Opinion: Why The Third Round FA Cup Draw Proves The Competitions Is Still Alive And Kicking

The FA Cup is still more than capable of throwing up a dream fixture…

Every year we hear the same old lines: the FA Cup has lost its magic, the Premier League sides don’t take it seriously any more, and so on. But why do we believe this to be the case?

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Last year, one of the perennial contenders for the Premier League title – Arsenal – threw everything they had at winning the competition and successfully ended their long-standing trophy drought. They certainly looked pleased about it too!

Chelsea and Manchester City – the Premier League’s current top two – have won the competition for five of the last eight years, while in 2013 – Liverpool needed Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez to see off non-league Mansfield.

The FA Cup has a proud history which stretches back to 1871, and should be treasured and celebrated, rather than condemned and criticised for causing fixture overload and inviting clubs to play their reserves.

For those that follow the early round’s of the competition, the 2014-15 edition has already thrown up a couple of major moments, and several non-league sides have progressed to the last 64.

Dover Athletic – from the Conference Premier – take on Crystal Palace, Blyth Spartans host Championship Birmingham, Wrexham travel to Stoke City, Gateshead meet West Brom, and Southport go to Derby County, while several other so-called minnows face second round replays.

But the game of the round comes at League Two AFC Wimbledon, a debutant in the third round, who take on Premier League giants and seven time winners Liverpool.

The match will evoke powerful memories for supporters old enough to remember the 1988 FA Cup final, when Wimbledon (in their former guise) stunned heavy favourites Liverpool thanks to Lawrie Sanchez’s 37th minute header, and Dave Beasant saved John Aldridge’s penalty.

The financial benefits of FA Cup progress can secure a team’s future for years to come, and help boost the lower levels of English football. The competition is something unrivalled anywhere else in the world, due to the lack of depth in their footballing pyramids.

In the FA Cup, anything can happen – as has been proved time and time again. Fans turn out in their thousands before the Premier League teams even enter the competition, dreaming of a tie against Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea or Arsenal.

This year’s draw only serves to prove the point that the FA Cup is alive and kicking, and long may that continue!

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