I unabashedly love the FA Cup, it’s probably my favorite of all the cup competitions. I like it because it’s ruthlessly, proudly old school; no group stages, no seedings. It’s just every professional team in England, represented by a ping pong ball, and the order in which the balls are removed is the sole determinant of one’s opponent. I mean, it’s so ruthlessly democratic that the balls representing the teams in the draw hopper are assigned numbers alphabetically - AFC Bournemouth is ball #1, Arsenal is ball #2, etc.
You get all kinds of awesome matchups in the third round because of that - like Arsenal going to Sutton United a couple years ago to play a non-league side, for instance. While games like that rarely end up with giant-killings, sometimes they do - like Arsenal going to Wrexham in 1992, for instance.
And it’s that uncertainty that I love about the FA Cup. It’s not that it always happens, but it’s the fact that upsets like that could happen - the fact that this one tournament’s draw, structure, and financial reward system isn’t stacked heavily in favor of the big teams - that makes me love it so much.
And today, we find out how Arsenal’s FA Cup campaign will start this year. Whether it starts against a Sutton United or a Manchester City, I’m just happy it’s back and can’t wait to see who’s up first for Arsenal.
HOW TO WATCH:
In England: BBC One.
In the US and other non-England places: On Twitter, because that’s how we live now. It’s at @EmiratesFACup.
The draw (or at least the draw show, I assume there’ll be some pomp and/or circumstance as well) starts at 11.30 AM PT/2.30 PM ET/7.30 PM BT.