Lee Dixon: I think we're heading for a penalty shoot-out today

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The Independent Online

It's an absolute disgrace that Premier League games are being played today, on the same day as the FA Cup final. I know that things move on, and a lot of things in the modern game have changed for the better, but the slow demise of the FA Cup is not one of them.

The fact that other games are going on today distracts and detracts from the occasion. The FA Cup final has always been the showpiece day of the season, when the whole world is watching, but that is not possible now.

When I was a player it was one of the highlights of my career to play in the Cup final, and know that professionals around the world will be watching you. What they have done to it this season makes me really angry.

Having got that off my chest, today's final has all the makings of a classic. People may say that Manchester City and Stoke are not the best teams in the country but that is the essence of the FA Cup, that any team could reach the final.

I really like the way Stoke have developed as a team this season. I remember chatting with Tony Pulis a while back and he took me through Stoke's pre-season training, when they go to an army camp for a few days. I felt sick just hearing about it. It reminded me of all the worst bits about being a professional footballer.

Stoke still rely a lot on their fitness but they have mixed it up with some good footballers and they are very difficult opponents. I have a feeling it will be a draw today, with the result going down to penalties. I grew up a Manchester City fan, but I played for Stoke, so my loyalties are divided. I'll be wearing a red, white and blue scarf today.

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