Iwan Roberts: Proper FA Cup tie can be one to savour – as Norwich will find out at Chelsea
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Big respect and fair play to Daniel Farke for his team selection against Chelsea – it was a strong starting XI and I’m so pleased he gave the FA Cup the respect the competition deserves... unlike many other managers last weekend.
I was at Rodney Parade on Sunday when Thomas Christiansen made nine changes to his Leeds side, and he got just what he deserved when Michael Flynn’s battling Newport County side knocked them out and were rewarded a mouth-watering home tie against Spurs in the fourth round.
Arsene Wenger, whose side have won the competition in three of the last four years and are the holders of the cup, fielded a weakened side against Nottingham Forest and were embarrassed and out-thought by Gary Brazil’s young and hungry Forest side.
It drives me mad when I hear managers moaning about having to play another game in the competition when they’ve drawn in the cup; if they don’t want a replay it’s quite simple – pick your strongest XI and give yourself the best chance of winning at the first attempt.
However, no one will be moaning down at Carrow Road about having to play another game as Norwich have to travel to Stamford Bridge – one of my favourite Premier League grounds – next Wednesday. There’s two reasons why I like going to The Bridge – the first is, it’s quite an easy one to get to by train as Fulham Broadway tube station is only a two-minute walk away, and the second is the standard of the food on offer in the Press Room; it’s top class, probably the best in the Premier League as Paddy Davitt and Michael Bailey will, I’m sure, testify.
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It’s like walking into a five-star restaurant, there’s so much to choose from, you get in there and you don’t know what to put on your plate first. You can have a three-course meal if you like and take a bag full of sweets from the sweetie jars up to your seat in the press box to eat while your watching the game. I tend not to do this as I can’t afford to lose any more teeth and it’s not great eating sweets while talking on the radio!
I did have a little smile to myself earlier in the week when my former club Huddersfield Town came in with what can only be described as a very cheeky £5m bid for Alex Pritchard. Surely they didn’t expect Norwich to accept such a derisory offer for a young talented player. I don’t think The Terriers will have been the only Premier League club to have shown an interest in signing Pritchard this month – I heard Swansea were very interested in taking him to The Liberty and that’s no surprise to me as he’s the type of player they are missing after Gylfi Sigurdsson moved to Everton.
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One thing is for sure, in this over-inflated transfer market you’re not going to sign Pritchard for £5m; realistically you are going to have to put your hand in your pocket to the sum of £12m-15m, maybe a little bit more.
Before that money-spinning FA Cup replay against Chelsea, Norwich have a very difficult trip to Ashton Gate, which is a lovely Stadium now it’s been redeveloped.
I remember playing down there in our final game of the 1998-99 season, by far my most productive in a yellow shirt. I went into the game full of confidence, having scored four goals in my previous three games and having never scored on the last day of the season. I was desperate to break that hoodoo.
Of course, it didn’t happen and my best season for Norwich ended on a sad note – we lost the game 1-0 and I had to wait until my last ever game for Norwich back in 2004 for me to score my only ever goal on the last day of the season.