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Saturday FA Cup open thread

Can you feel the magic?

Oxford United v Swansea City - The Emirates FA Cup Third Round Photo by Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

The FA Cup is magic. Everyone says so, and you don’t want to contradict EVERYONE, do you? Why, yesterday West Ham lost 5-0 to Manchester City. FIVE-NIL! See? Magic.

I don’t like to pretend that everyone knows exactly what the FA Cup is. Especially in America, there are new fans who may be a tad confused as to why Premier League teams are playing other English teams they’ve never heard of when they should be playing Premier League games.

The FA Cup is the oldest football elimination competition in the world. It was first contested in 1871-72. This was pre-Tottenham Hotspur, pre-Arsenal. It’s run more or less continuously (except for during Major Events™ like world wars and the like) ever since.

It’s also one of, if not the, biggest tournament in world football. It’s open to all English professional and amateur all the way from the Premier League to Level 10 of the English football pyramid. In fact, any English club can pay the fee and join the tournament. Preliminary rounds start in August, but the teams in the upper tiers of English football don’t join until later rounds. We’re technically in Round Three (actually Round 9 if you include the Qualifying Competition rounds), which is when Premier League teams are thrown into the fray.

Uniquely, apart from the big teams joining late, there’s no seeding. Teams are thrown into a big bin and drawn out one by one, but unlike, say, the NCAA tournament, teams are re-drawn after each round. This often results in big teams playing minnows, sometimes at the minnow’s stadiums. Upsets even happen. That’s where the MAGIC comes in.

The championship game is held at Wembley Stadium. Winner gets a big trophy for their display case and bragging rights. Manchester United won the FA Cup last year. It was annoying.

There’s a full slate of FA Cup matches today. This is your open thread to talk about these matches, and to discuss Spurs’ FA Cup tie against Aston Villa which will be held on Sunday morning.

Here are a couple of viewing notes for for today’s games:

  • The lowest team left in the competition is Stourbridge, who play in level 7, the Northern Premier League Premier Division, where they are currently sixth in the table. They are known as the Glassboys and take on Wycombe today, three tiers above them.
  • There are a few current and former Tottenham players who could feature today. Spurs midfielder and Oliver Twist actor Will Miller is currently on loan at Burton Albion. Other Spurs academy products involved today include Dean Parrett (AFC Wimbledon), Alex Pritchard (Norwich) and Grant Ward (Ipswich). Hull City is, of course, full of former Tottenham players. Former Spurs striker Darren Bent is currently playing for Derby County.

FA Cup Schedule

(all matches at 10 am ET unless otherwise noted)

  • Manchester United vs. Reading (7:30 am ET)
  • Accrington Stanley vs. Luton Town
  • Barrow vs. Rochdale
  • Birmingham City vs. Newcastle United
  • Blackpool vs. Barnsley
  • Bolton Wanderers vs. Crystal Palace
  • Brentford vs. Eastleigh
  • Brighton & Hove Albion vs. MK Dons
  • Bristol City vs. Fleetwood Town
  • Everton vs. Leicester City
  • Huddersfield Town vs. Port Vale
  • Hull City vs. Swansea City
  • Ipswich Town vs. Lincoln
  • Millwall vs. Bournemouth
  • Norwich vs. Southampton
  • QPR vs. Blackburn
  • Rotherham vs. Oxford United
  • Stoke City vs. Wolverhampton
  • Sunderland vs. Burnley
  • Sutton United vs. AFC Wimbledon
  • Watford vs. Burton Albion
  • West Brom vs. Derby County
  • Wigan vs. Nottingham Forest
  • Wycombe Wanderers vs. Stourbridge
  • Preston North End vs. Arsenal (12:30 pm ET)