Football English Blog: Are cup competitions important?
Welcome to Lesson 3 in Activity Week - Dilemmas.
In all of our Football English blogs, we look at a topical item of football news and ask you to do three things:
- Read the article and look at the words in red. Think about what these words mean.
- Do the quiz at the end of the article. This quiz checks your understanding of the football English in the article.
- Answer the questions and give your opinion in the comments section.
This is our latest Football English Blog and this week we're talking about whether cup competitions are important for Premier League clubs.
Are Premier League teams up for the cup?
This week sees Premier League teams in action in the FA Cup and European competition. For the first time, five Premier League clubs have made it to the knockout stages of the Champions League and Arsenal have advanced to the final 32 of the Europa League. This weekend sees the fifth round of the FA Cup and ten Premier League clubs are still in contention to win the oldest football competition in the world. But, how interested are Premier League clubs in these competitions? In the previous two rounds of the FA Cup, Premier League teams have often selected weakened teams and this has resulted in ten Premier League teams being knocked out of the competition; often by underdogs from the second, third or even fourth tier of English football. Why is this happening?
Are Premier League teams playing too many games?
One argument that is often given for teams playing reserve players in cup competitions is fixture congestion. For example, Chelsea had to play nine matches in January while teams that had been knocked out in earlier rounds of cup competitions only had to play five or six. In the FA Cup, against Norwich City, Chelsea made nine changes to their starting line-up from the previous match. This resulted in a replay and an additional match to Chelsea's already busy schedule. In the two-legged League Cup semi-final, which Chelsea played against Arsenal before and after the Norwich match, they fielded a full-strength line-up. It seems that Premier League teams will run the risk of getting knocked out by underdogs in the early rounds of competitions but if they have a chance of winning the competition they will play their full-strength Premier League team.
Is Premier League survival more important than winning a trophy?
This is an argument that is often given for Premier League teams not taking the FA Cup seriously but the reality is that only four teams (Stoke City, West Ham, Bournemouth and Arsenal) have been knocked out by a team from a lower division in this season's competition. It is true that Premier League survival has become more important over the years, but, in recent years, teams that have reached the FA Cup Final have included: Crystal Palace, Hull City, Stoke City, Aston Villa and Portsmouth. All of these teams were in the bottom half of the Premier League and none of them were relegated. However, all Premier League teams want to avoid what happened to Wigan Atheltic in the 2012/13 season. Wigan famously beat Manchester City to win the FA Cup but they were relegated just three days later and are currently playing in the third tier of English football. On a happier note, Wigan have been this season's giant killers beating Bournemouth in the third round and West Ham in the fourth round of this season's FA Cup. They have a chance to re-create their shock FA Cup win when they play Manchester City in the fifth round later this week.
What do you think?
Is the Premier League more important than cup competitions? Why/why not?
Do Premier League teams play too many matches? What can be done to ease fixture congestion?
What do you like about cup matches?
Write your answers in the comments section below.