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FA Cup: Fixtures, TV schedule and what to expect this year

The FA Cup is the oldest national football competition in the world and remains one of the iconic tournaments on the sporting calendar.

Although the competition may not be seen to be quite as prestigious as it once was, it still attracts plenty of attention as smaller clubs from lower down the pyramid get the chance to take on the big boys in the hope of causing a big upset.

History of the FA Cup

The FA Cup was first played during the 1871/72 season and the first winners were Wanderers, a team made up of former public schoolboys based in London, who actually won the competition five times in those very early years.

Between 1872 and 1922, various venues hosted the showpiece game, including Kennington Oval, Crystal Palace, Goodison Park and Old Trafford, before the final was first staged at Wembley Stadium in 1923.

It stayed there until 2000, before locating to Cardiff for six years while Wembley was being rebuilt and the 'new' Wembley has hosted the final since 2007.

The first FA Cup trophy was in use until 1895 and was known as the 'little tin idol'. It was stolen from a Birmingham shop in 1895 while in the possession of that year's winners, Aston Villa, and replaced with a replica later that year.

It was then redesigned in 1911 by Bradford jeweller Fattorini in time for that year's Cup final and this is still the familiar design in use today, although that trophy was replaced with an identical version in 1992 and then again in 2014 by the FA.

How is the FA Cup organised?

Any club from the top 10 levels of the English football league system can enter, including 100s of non-league teams.

They compete through six qualifying rounds before the tournament reaches the first-round proper with the 32 teams that made it that far joining the first of the 48 professional teams from Leagues One and Two. Premier League and Championship clubs then enter at the third-round stage.

The teams are whittled down over rounds four and five before the competition reaches the quarter-final and semi-final stage.

The semis are played at Wembley Stadium too, before the final takes place, usually in mid-May, with the winners qualifying for the following season's UEFA Europa League.

Replays are contested up until the fourth-round stage if an original tie ends in a draw after 90 minutes, but from the fifth round onwards, if a game is level at the end of regulation time, it will go straight to extra time and penalties after that if the two teams still can't be separated.

What are some of the biggest FA Cup shocks?

There have been plenty of major shocks throughout the FA Cup's storied history, with perhaps the most memorable coming in the third round back in 1972.

Non-league Hereford United took First Division Newcastle United to a replay and amidst the Edgar Street mud Ronnie Radford blasted home a 35-yard screamer to equalise late on in the game, before Ricky George slotted home an extra-time winner.

That tale takes on added significance this season as Radford passed away in early November at the age of 79.

Another of the most famous giant-killings came back in 1992, when First Division champions and cup favourites Arsenal were dumped out by fourth-tier Wrexham, with the Welsh side coming back from 1-0 down to win 2-1 in dramatic fashion.

A similarly surprising FA Cup comeback took place in 2015, with League One Bradford City coming back from 2-1 down at Stamford Bridge to defeat Jose Mourinho's star-studded Chelsea 4-2 in the fourth round.

The biggest FA Cup final shock can be acknowledged to have taken place at the old Wembley in 1988, when freshly-crowned English First Division champions Liverpool succumbed to a 1-0 defeat to an unfashionable Wimbledon side dubbed the 'Crazy Gang' courtesy of a header from Lawrie Sanchez.

Who are the most successful teams in the FA Cup?

Arsenal have won the FA Cup the most, lifting the trophy a record 14 times, the last of which came in 2020.

The Gunners have also appeared in the most finals (21). Manchester United are second on the list, winning the Cup 12 times, while Chelsea and Tottenham have been FA Cup winners eight times each.

The current holders are Liverpool, who beat Chelsea 6-5 on penalties in the 2022 Final after the match had finished 0-0 after extra-time. It was the eighth time the Reds have lifted the trophy and first since 2006.

What FA Cup games are on TV?

The FA Cup semi-finals will be staged at Wembley Stadium across the weekend of Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 April, with further details to follow after talks between the FA, clubs and broadcast partners.

Who are the favourites to win the FA Cup this year?

With the FA Cup semi-finalists now confirmed, reigning Premier League winners Manchester City are 4/7 favourites to scoop the famous trophy this year.

City's fierce local rivals Manchester United are next in the reckoning at 5/2, with Brighton priced at 11/2 and Sheffield United rated outsiders at 33/1.

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