FA Cup Talking Points: Blue Is the Color

19 April 2009

Chelsea and Everton have advanced to the FA Cup finals in two very different games this weekend at Wembley Stadium. So what story lines have come from this weekend?

1) The Media Fabrication of the 'Manchester United Quintuple' is Over.
Let's look at reality here folks; no one in the English media gave a damn about the World Club Championship while it was taking place. It was only after Manchester United won the League Cup that everyone started talking about this whole 'Quintuple'.

The talk was nauseating at the best of times and downright unreadable at the worst. It just felt like the English media was forcing this fabricated title down our throats. However after today, they can not talk about it any longer. They may talk Treble, but one of the competitions will be thrown out the window. The only question is which one will it be? The World Club Championship would be the one I think they eliminate out of our minds because as I said above, the English media only paid token attention to the competition to begin with.

2) The Blunders of Lukasz Fabianski.
The game against Chelsea and Arsenal was not a great game to watch. Bad ball handling, shambolic touches, and bad finishing. But above all else, the Arsenal/Chelsea semi-final will be remembered most for the bad day between the posts for Lukasz Fabianski.

Sure he's the club's number two keeper. But the mistakes he made cost Arsenal a trip to the FA Cup final. He was beaten off his line twice, and the only reason he wasn't beaten the first time was because Kieran Gibbs was faster to the line than Drogba's chip. It would have been a harsh goal to concede so early in the match, but nonetheless they would have deserved to be down.

Malouda's goal was inexcusable. After Walcott got Cech coming from wince he came to put Arsenal ahead, Fabianski was very lax in defending the near post and it bit him in the backside. Malouda, who as most of the Chelsea squad has seen a renaissance under Hiddink, gets the ball just inside the penalty area and given the chance to turn. Fabianski had the angle well cut off on the far post, but was cheating too much to the far side. A deft touch by Malouda was all that was required to beat him near post.

The game winner isn't all on Fabianski, but one has to have learned the lesson of the earlier blunder. Drogba wasn't going to get unfortunate twice.

3) The Revenge of Tim Howard
You won't convince me otherwise, but Tim Howard was made the ultimate scapegoat for Manchester United's elimination in the Champions League to eventual winners Porto. Fergie made the Americans life hell to the point a move out was the only option he had. He got his wish and moved to Everton.

He hasn't been too successful in goal for Everton against Manchester United until today. Don't tell me he didn't have some extra motivation in the penalty shootout against his former side, because I think you'd be lying. It was the perfect opportunity for Howard to escape the ghosts of United past, and he did so brilliantly. Two perfect penalty saves in the first two rounds were all that were required to send Everton into the FA Cup final.

4) Sir Alex Ferguson's Questionable Lineup.
As soon as I saw the line up Manchester United put out against Everton, I was stunned. Sure it was a formidable lineup, but nonetheless it was a side that appeared to be thrown out there for no reason at all. I'd go as far as to say the lineup Ferguson put out in the second leg against Derby County in the League Cup Semi-Final was a stronger lineup than we saw today.

When you don't even bother to put your strongest players in the squad, it tells me that Ferguson took Everton too lightly. In all honesty, I don't think he cared. When it's all said and done, the only competitions Sir Alex gives a damn about are the Premier League and the Champions League. With Portsmouth on Wednesday to increase the lead over Liverpool to four points, this was a game Ferguson could have done without.

5) Was it A Penalty?
I take you back to the 68th Minute of Manchester United v Everton. Danny Welbeck is charging in on goal and Phil Jagielka gets the legs. Letter of the law it's a penalty, but Mike Riley plays on.

Many will scream that David Moyes's comments are the sole reason this wasn't given. Sir Alex has already questioned that fact. However, looking at the replay, there was no way on earth Riley with 100 percent certainty could have given a penalty.

I stand by what I have always said. If it's a letter of the law penalty, it has to be called every single time. For Manchester United had it been called, they are in the final and not Everton. Even David Moyes post match thought it was a penatly.

So congratulations to Chelsea and Everton who will be back at Wembley on May 30th.

What were your thoughts on FA Cup Semi-Final weekend? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

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Johnathan Starling, the self proclaimed 'most brutally honest man on the net, dishes out his own unique brand of opinions, and analysis on the Premier League, Bundesliga, and all things US Soccer.

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