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Last Updated: Saturday, 21 May, 2005, 14:07 GMT 15:07 UK
FA Cup final 2005 build-up
As the tension built in and around Cardiff ahead of Saturday's FA Cup final between Arsenal and Manchester United, our team of reporters, pundits and fans offered their observations to BBC Sport.


UPDATE AT 1435: Andy, Arsenal fan, via text
I am in the Old Queen's Head pub in Islington where a Manchester United fan on his stag do came in dressed as a Red Devil. He lasted about two minutes before beating a hasty retreat and then re-emerged wearing a big coat and having had his trident confiscated.

UPDATE AT 1433: Chopper, Arsenal fan, via text
Man Utd fans are dressed in black because they know they will win nothing this season.

UPDATE AT 1429: Charlie Henderson, BBC Sport website
Cup Final day is supposed to be sunny, but not even rumbling thunder and incessant rain can dampen the enthusiasm of the fans in the packed city centre.

UPDATE AT 1417: Manchester United assistant manager Carlos Queiroz
We have had injury problems during the last 10 or 15 days, but we have prepared Wes Brown and John O'Shea and we trust them to do the job today. Playing Roy Carroll was not a last-minute decision, we are very happy with his recent performances.

UPDATE AT 1415: Confirmed teams
Arsenal: Lehmann, Lauren, Cole, Senderos, Toure, Vieira, Gilberto, Fabregas, Pires, Reyes, Bergkamp
Man Utd: Carroll, Brown, O'Shea, Ferdinand, Silvestre, Keane, Scholes, Fletcher, Ronaldo, Rooney, Van Nistelrooy

UPDATE AT 1412: Peter Schmeichel, BBC football pundit
It really surprises me that Sol Campbell is not playing. He is obviously fit as he is on the bench and Arsenal need a fit Sol Campbell.

UPDATE AT 1402: BBC Sport in Cardiff
The rumours of Tim Howard's place in goal seem premature as Roy Carroll is now reported to have been given the nod. The look on Ryan Giggs' face as he steps off the United coach seems to confirm the claims that he is on the United bench, with Darren Fletcher preferred.

Arsenal prefer Philippe Senderos to Sol Campbell at centre back, while Freddie Ljungberg also looks likely to miss out in the starting line-up.

UPDATE AT 1350: Charlie Henderson, BBC Sport website
A roar greets each Arsenal goal when Match of the Day's goal of the season section is shown at the Old Arcade pub. United get two nominations. "3-2 - we'll take that this afternoon", cries a punter.

UPDATE AT 1348: Andrew Phillips, Man Utd fan in New Zealand via 606 message board
I'm sitting at home in my United shirt waiting for TV coverage to start. Just gone midnight. We have a houseful coming over to watch. Don't think it will finish with 22 on the pitch!

UPDATE AT 1346: Charlie Henderson, BBC Sport website
While United fans are occupying the area of the city right outside the station, Arsenal's home from home has just burst to life. The sight of the Arsenal team coach working its way to the stadium brought a massive roar from the Arsenal fans and saw the pubs empty as fans rushed for a glimpse of their heroes.

UPDATE AT 1342: Liam, Man Utd fan in Cardiff
Will the stadium roof will be open? We are experiencing a thunder storm at the moment in Cardiff.

UPDATE AT 1320: Charlie Henderson, BBC Sport website
United fans don't seem too worried about who plays in goal - though some have pointed out that after a week of trouble with one American, they could do without problems from another this afternoon.

UPDATE AT 1313: Mark Lawrenson, BBC Sport pundit:
It sounds as though Ryan Giggs is not going to start, but the Manchester United players didn't know what the team was until 1130 this morning, which is very late to find out on Cup final day, not even the kit man knew who would play.

UPDATE AT 1247: "Sweet FA", via 606 message boards
I've heard that because the traffic is so bad, and with so many fans going down without tickets, the match is going to be delayed by nearly 30 minutes. Anyone confirm this?
BBC Sport in Cardiff replies:
We understand that kick-off is still scheduled for 1500 BST.

UPDATE AT 1245: Mike Ingham, Radio 5 Live chief football correspondent
The strong word going around the stadium at the moment is that Tim Howard is going to start in goal instead of Roy Carroll, which would be a surprise, and also that Darren Fletcher is going to play in midfield.

It also looks like Arsenal are going to change their formation and play Dennis Bergkamp as a surprise lone striker, with five in midfield.

UPDATE AT 1238: Charlie Henderson, BBC Sport website
Weekend trainspotters at Cardiff Central are being overrun by disembarking seas of fans in red who can't wait to sample the city's cup final atmosphere one last time.

UPDATE AT 1236: Rob Styles, FA Cup final referee
I was feeling fine until Graham Taylor started talking about crashes! But I've got an excellent team around me and I've been looked after really well. This is the biggest day of my career, I have a big responsibility to the game, to my colleagues, in many ways I'm living their dream today.

UPDATE AT 1226: Graham Taylor, BBC football pundit
The FA Cup final has needed a game like this to get all the attention again. We're all on edge because we don't know what to expect. It's like watching a grand prix when you half want to see a crash but you half don't as well.

UPDATE AT 1224: Disco Stu, Man Utd fan, via text
My dad looks like Glazer, so he's definitely not coming into town with me. He's got a stupid beard!

UPDATE AT 1220: Liam Chapman, Liverpool fan, via text
Going to Cardiff just to wave the Stars and Stripes at the United fans.

UPDATE AT 1214: TJ, via 606 message boards
I've just heard the Millennium Stadium roof has got stuck. Is it true?

UPDATE AT 1207: James Munro, BBC News sports reporter
The first thing that strikes you is the Manchester United fans wearing black; black armbands with RIP on them and black wristbands with "not for sale" written on. Outside, for now, the public protests are peaceful.

UPDATE AT 1204: Tom, Man Utd fan, at Uni in St Andrews
Missing the match because I've got a modern history exam at 2pm. Gutted

UPDATE AT 1158: Al, Man Utd fan, via text
Just spotted a Glazer lookalike in Yates's and everyone's singing "Malcolm Glazer's in the pub...."

UPDATE AT 1150: Arsenal fan, via text
I'm unfortunately on a caravan break with some mates - spent the journey down teaching my mate's five-year-old daughter Arsenal songs! Thinking of all the Gooners.

UPDATE AT 1130: H from Oxford, Man Utd fan, via text
Just got to Wales. Traffic crawling and still 20 miles to go.

UPDATE AT 1052: Stan the Red, via text
Ticking off the stations to Cardiff and it's time to crack open the four-pack. "We're on our way to the Millennium" - the singing has started and the banter is building as the train bears down on Cardiff. Come on you Gunners!

UPDATE AT 1020: Alex, Man Utd fan, via text
Left London at 0730 and the M4 was already jam-packed with Arsenal fans travelling to the game. Then when the M5 joins lots of Manchester United fans started pouring onto the road and the motorway turned into a sea of red and white. There are already big traffic jams building around Newport.

So far not much sign of anti-Glazer demonstrations but passed one of the Man U supporters buses on the motorway and everyone on it was dressed in black. I'm wearing a black tie with my suit.

UPDATE AT 1015: Charles, Arsenal fan, via text
I thought the bunfight for train seats would be restricted to the journey home, but it's mad already. Still, after getting through Paddington's organised chaos, we're on our way to Cardiff.

Match of the Day
Watch all the best action plus reaction from the final day of the Premier League season on Match of the Day. (UK users only)


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