If you are watching today’s game on television in the UK you’ll have a choice between Sky Sports and the BBC for your coverage. If you choose the BBC then you’ll have to listen to John Motson commentating on the fixture. He’ll talk from time to time about what’s happening on the pitch, especially if it’s action involving an England player, but will spend most of his time reeling off facts.
Here are some of the facts he’s likely to tell you about, usually during an exciting passage of play, as borrowed from the BBC’s sport website.
This is the 125th FA Cup.
This is Liverpool’s 13th final; they’ve won the cup six times.
Liverpool won the first FA Cup final to be played at the Millennium Stadium, this is the last.
West Ham have been in the final four times previously. They’ve won it three times.
West Ham were the last club from outside the top-flight to win the Cup, when they last won it in 1980.
Liverpool’s 3-1 win over Portsmouth last Sunday was a new club record
of 11 straight wins in all competitions. It was made up of nine league
games and two FA Cup games. Their last defeat was against Arsenal on
Liverpool are still European Champions, although only for the next few
days. They are currently the holders of the European Super Cup, their
first piece of silverware for this season.
The last time the Reds won the FA Cup was in 2001, when they beat
Arsenal 2-1. Michael Owen scored twice in the last seven minutes.
Rafael Benítez saw his side go out to Burnley in the third round of the
cup last season. The Spaniard was criticised by many for not taking the
competition seriously, Rafa says this is untrue. He genuinely sent out
a side he thought would win that game. (Motson will probably not agree
with what we’ve just said).
On the way to the final this season Liverpool started with a 5-3 win
over Luton before knocking out Portsmouth away from home. Next up was a
memorable win over Manchester United at Anfield, courtesy of a goal
from Peter Crouch. Steve Bruce’s Birmingham were the victims of
Liverpool’s 7-0 record-breaking quarter-final win. The semi-final saw
Karma in action once again as the Reds sent Chelsea out of a semi-final
for the second season in a row. Just like after last season’s Champions
League semi-final, Jose Mourinho’s face was a picture.
Steven Gerrard likes to score in cup finals. He got Liverpool’s first
against Milan in last season’s Champions League victory. He also got
the first goal for the Reds in 2003 when they beat Manchester United in
the Worthington Cup final at Cardiff, and the second of Liverpool’s
goals in the 2001 UEFA Cup final when the Reds eventually won 5-4
against Alaves. He’d rather forget his own goal in last season’s 3-2
Carling Cup defeat against Chelsea.
Head to head between the two clubs it’s been all Liverpool for some
time now. Liverpool are unbeaten in eight games against the Hammers,
with the last four games all being Liverpool wins. Trevor Sinclair got
the last winner for West Ham in a 1-0 win at Upton Park in November
There has been some sadness for West Ham this season with the passing
away of two of their legends, Ron Greenwood and John Lyall. Both men
won the FA Cup for West Ham, Greenwood in charge in 1964 when they beat
Preston 3-2, and Lyall winning it twice, in 1975 (2-0 against Fulham)
and 1980 (1-0 against Arsenal).
Like Liverpool, West Ham have had a tough route through to the final,
including four Premiership teams. They started out with a win over
Championship Norwich then had to overcome Blackburn, Bolton, Manchester
City and Middlesbrough.
West Ham won their last two Premiership games, against already
relegated West Brom and Tottenham side suffering with upset stomachs.
Their previous game was against Liverpool at Upton Park. The 2-1 win
for Liverpool ended with Hayden Mullins and Luis Garcia sent off. The
resulting suspension meant both players had to miss out on today’s
game, and the good-old FA were not interested in the fact both clubs
felt the sendings-off were harsh and the bans should be shortened.
Liverpool also won the Anfield fixture against the Hammers, a 2-0 win
West Ham have never beaten Liverpool in the FA Cup, this game is the fifth cup meeting between the two sides.
West Ham’s last FA Cup Final victory included the record being broken
for the youngest player to participate in an FA Cup final. Paul Allen
was 17 years 256 days old when he played at Wembley in the Hammer’s 1-0
defeat of Arsenal. The goalscorer that day was Trevor Brooking, so
expect to be shown the goal more than once today.
Nigel Reo-Coker will become the youngest ever captain of an FA
Cup-winning side if he can lead his team to victory. He’s 22 tomorrow
and if he does take the record he’ll be taking it from another West Ham
Legend, Bobby Moore. Moore was 23 when he lifted the cup in 1964.
If selected to play, Teddy Sheringham, will become the third oldest
finalist. At 40 years 41 days, if he scores he will become the oldest
scorer of an FA Cup Final goal.
The last English manager to win the cup was Joe Royle Everton in 1995. West Ham’s boss Pardew is aiming to be the next.
Something else that will be played repeatedly today is the embarrassing
memories of the FA Cup semi-final of 1990. Pardew was a Crystal Palace
player that season and scored the only FA Cup goal of his playing
career Palace’s epic 4-3 defeat of the Reds, who at the time were cup
holders. Palace went on to lose the final to Manchester United.
Pardew has been a manager three times in games at the Millennium
Stadium – all play-off finals. He’s lost two of those three games. In
2001 he saw his Reading side beaten by Walsall in the Division Two
play-off. As manager of West Ham he saw his old club Crystal Palace get
the victory in the 2004 play-off for promotion to the Premiership. Last
season saw him get a victory, when a Bobby Zamora goal got them a
victory over Preston and promotion to the top flight.
The sides have met a total 102 times, 4 times in the FA Cup. Liverpool have won 53 to West Ham’s 20, with 29 games drawn.
The four FA Cup games began in 1914, when Liverpool followed up a 1-1
draw with a 5-1 replay win in the third round. Liverpool’s two other
wins were in the 1963 quarter final and the 1976 third round.
Liverpool’s six FA Cup final wins:
1965 2-1 v Leeds United (AET)
1974 3-0 v Newcastle
1986 3-1 v Everton
1989 3-2 v Everton (AET)
1992 2-0 v Sunderland
2001 2-1 v Arsenal
How Liverpool got to the final:
07/01/06 R3 5-3 A Luton T
29/01/06 R4 2-1 A Portsmouth
18/01/06 R5 1-0 H Man Utd
21/03/06 QF 7-0 A Birmingham
22/04/06 SF 2-1 N Chelsea
West Ham’s three FA Cup final wins:
1964 3-2 v Preston NE
1975 2-0 v Fulham
1980 1-0 v Arsenal
How West Ham got to the final:
07/01/06 R3 2-1 A Norwich
28/01/06 R4 4-2 H Blackburn
18/02/06 R5 0-0 A Bolton
15/03/06 R5 2-1 H Bolton – Replay (AET)
20/03/06 QF 2-1 A Manchester City
23/04/06 SF 1-0 N Middlesbrough