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Thursday, 13 February, 2003, 12:09 GMT
Why your team will lift the Cup
Ryan Giggs scores the winner against Arsenal in the 1999 FA Cup semi-final
Giggs scores his wonder-goal against Arsenal in 1999

Chin up - the odds are stacked in favour of your club triumphing in Cardiff come May.

I know what you're thinking: statistically, it's highly unlikely that more than one club can win the FA Cup this year.

But every fan has a reason why this could finally be their year...

Manchester United
The last time United won the Cup, they had to beat Arsenal en route.

Who are they playing on Saturday? Perfect.

As long as Sol Campbell's in the line-up, Arsenal are laughing - they've never ever lost an FA Cup tie when Sol's been in the team.

Last time Terry Venables won the FA cup, with Spurs back in 1991, he was at loggerheads with his chairman, Alan Sugar.

Fast forward 12 years, substitute Peter Ridsdale for Sugar and - hey presto!

Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace reached the FA Cup final 13 years ago - and who did they beat en route?

Liverpool. Exactly. Done deal.

Chelsea won through to the FA Cup final in 1994, 1997 and 2000. It's now 2003.
Gianfranco Zola celebrates Chelsea's FA Cup win at Wembley in 2000
Will Zola be celebrating again this year?

See any sort of three year cycle emerging?

Stoke City
When Chelsea's name came out of the hat, Stoke fans knew they could relax.

The Blues can't get near them in cup competitions - they have managed to beat the Potters just once in nine cup games.

When the Saints won the Cup in 1976, they were 1-0 down in the third round with a minute to go when their substitute scored, snatching them a replay which they subsequently won 2-1.

What happened against Millwall last month? Did I hear you say "1-1 draw thanks to last-gasp equaliser from the sub, followed by a 2-1 win in the replay"?

This is an easy one. Ask any Sunderland fan what happened 30 years ago and they'll shout the answer from the roof-tops.

Bob Stokoe and Jim Montgomery might not be involved any more - but the anniversary of that famous Cup win is a powerful enough omen by itself.

Hey - Leeds are even still in the draw...

Talk about the luck of the Irish - or even the luck of "Irish".

For that was Norwich manager Nigel Worthington's nickname when he played for Sheffield Wednesday - who exactly ten years ago reached the FA Cup final, with Worthington rock-solid as ever at left-back.

Easy. Wolves won the first of their four FA Cups exactly 110 years ago.

Time for another one, surely?

Fulham famously reached the FA Cup final in 1975, only to be beaten by a West Ham side playing in claret and blue.

Which is why Jean Tigana's men are doomed this weekend, unless Burnley do the decent thing and switch to their change strip instead.

Sheffield United
The Blades are unbeatable at home in cup competitions this season.

Premiership teams have come and gone, so why should Walsall prove any harder?

NB - problems might arise from the semi-finals onwards - neutral grounds and all that...

The best news Watford fans could have had, FA Cup-wise, was Girls Aloud going to number one in the singles charts at Christmas.

John Barnes in action for Watford in the 1984 final
John Barnes in action for Watford in the 1984 final
Why? Because it prevented Elton John being top of the hit parade in 2003.

Watford never win the Cup when their most famous fan has a number one in that year.

Think about it. 1976 ("Don't Go Breaking My Heart", feat. Kiki Dee) saw them beaten 3-0 by Brighton in the first round.

1990 ("Sacrifice")? Beaten at home by Sheffield United in the fourth round. 1991 ("Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me", feat. George Michael) = spanked 4-1 by Shrewsbury in the third round.

1997 ("Candle In the Wind")? 3-1 defeat to Man City in round four. And 2002 "(Sorry Seems To Be the Hardest Word", feat. Blue)? A 4-1 defeat by Arsenal in the third.

Walsall have been in existence since 1888, and they are yet to win a single trophy.

If that doesn't make it time for their debut success, there's no justice in the world.

Burnley have won the FA Cup just once - in 1914, the year a massive war broke out.

Hang on - what's that President Bush talking about?

If ever it was Rochdale's turn, 2003 is the year - it is now exactly 125 years since the last team whose name begins with the letter "R" reached an FA Cup final.

On that particular occasion, the Royal Engineers took a pasting at the feet of Wanderers - and Rochdale manager Paul Simpson won't need reminding that Wanderers aren't even in the draw this time around...

Quarter-final draw

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