The FA Cup is commonly known as the “Greatest Cup Competition in the World”, and we couldn’t agree more. It carries far more prestige than the League Cup, although both winners qualify for the Europa League.
Here we bring you some information, statistics, and betting advice that might just help you pick the winner of this year’s FA Cup. So read on and see if you can find something to help stack the betting odds in your favour.
One of the special attributes of the FA Cup is that every single team in England – whether professional, semi-professional or amateur – has the right to enter, all the way down to the bottom of the English football pyramid. For a non-league team to make it through to the third round, when Premier League and Championship teams are introduced, really encapsulates why the competition is so special – it can result in some very rare fixtures indeed.
In recent years, there have been concerns that the big clubs, too often preoccupied with vying for honours in Europe and in the Premier League, are not taking the FA Cup as seriously as they should. However, it has to be remembered that the big clubs are still hugely dominant. Since 2009, Chelsea have won four FA Cups, Arsenal have won three and the Manchester clubs have won 3 between them. The only real surprise came in 2012-13 when Wigan beat Man City in the final, but even they were in the Premier League at the time.
However seriously or not certain teams take the competition, to win the FA Cup is still one of the top honours in the English game.
The FA Cup is the oldest football competition in the world. It was first played in the 1871-72 season and is responsible for some of the greatest moments in the history of our great, great game.
The 1953 final, known as the “Matthews Final”, is one of the most famous in the history of the competition purely because of the genius of Stanley Matthews. The English winger inspired his side, Blackpool, to come back from 3-1 down against Bolton Wanderers to win the game 4-3; the game also featured a hat-trick but not from Matthews, from Blackpool striker Stan Mortensen. The game proved so popular on both TV and radio that the final has always had its own slot on both formats from thereon in.
The most historic element of the FA Cup is the classic big upset; the “cupset”. There have been a number of such occurrences over the years, some of which are certainly worthy of note.
Arguably the most famous cup upset comes from 1972 when Hereford United, a non-league side, beat Newcastle United, who were in the top flight, 2-1 in a third round replay. Ronnie Radford’s stunning winner from 30 yards is the iconic moment from the game and it set a trend for years to come of brilliant upsets, giving confidence to smaller sides.
Another example of a non-league side beating top-flight opposition was in the 1988-1989 campaign when Sutton United beat Coventry City. It was the last example of such an unlikely victory until Luton Town beat Norwich City in 2013.
Other examples of “FA Cup romance” come from 2008 when Havant and Waterlooville gave Liverpool a scare at Anfield before eventually going down 5-2, and then Barnsley beat the Reds and Chelsea next to reach the semi-final at Wembley.
The most prolific winners in the history of the FA Cup with 13 competition wins are Arsenal, one ahead of Manchester United. That success has largely come in the modern era, as over the last 20 or so years bigger clubs have dominated the competition. The two aforementioned clubs are also head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to the most appearances in the final with 20 apiece.
A club called Wanderers (who existed from 1859 to 1887 but were reformed in 2009) join Blackburn Rovers, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur as clubs who have won consecutive FA Cups on more than one occasion.
Everton hold the current record for having lost the most finals. They have lost on eight separate occasions, firstly in 1893 and most recently in 2009 to Chelsea. That 2009 final was also the game in which Louis Saha scored the fastest ever FA Cup goal.
The highest scoring tie was between Dulwich Hamlet and St Albans City in a fourth qualifying round match in 1922. The first game finished 7-7 and the replay was then won 8-7 by Dulwich Hamlet so that 29 goals were scored in total between them. The biggest win belongs to Preston North End who beat Hyde United 26-0 in 1887. Ouch.
Ashley Cole has won the competition an unprecedented seven times, three with Arsenal and four with Chelsea, although since he is now retired that record is up for grabs.
The 19 goals scored by Jimmy Ross for Preston North End in the 1887-88 campaign is the highest from any player in one season in the competition while Ted MacDougall scored a record-breaking nine goals in one FA Cup game for Bournemouth in 1971.
Before a significant rule change, FA Cup ties were never resolved by extra time and penalties but by replays… as many as were needed! The longest tie lasted six games and 660 minutes, between Oxford City and Alvechurch in the 1972 fourth qualifying round.
One of the best things about the FA Cup is that almost every match in the competition has the potential for a big upset, and with big upsets come very nice betting odds. Trying to pick out the matches in which such an upset is likely to occur is not always an easy task but in general, you can bet your bottom dollar that a struggling Premier League side who has been drawn away to a lower league side on a good run has a decent chance of stumbling.
Having said that, who would have predicted that League One side Bradford City would go to Premier League leaders Chelsea and win 3-2 in the 2014-15 season? We sure wish we’d put money on that.
When betting on the underdog you have numerous options available from simply backing them to win to opting for the “draw no bet”, or perhaps taking them with a +0.5 or even +1.5 goal advantage in the Asian handicap market. If a Premier League side is expected to win comfortably, there is often value in backing against that big win using the handicaps, thus you’ll be in the money whether there is a narrow victory for the favourite, a draw, or a shock result.
Overall though, nothing quite beats seeing the underdog triumph when you’ve bet on them to do so, so for us, FA Cup betting is all about trying to ascertain which sides are most likely to upset the odds. As mentioned, recent league form is an obvious indicator, but so is the likelihood of players from the top flight side being rested. Some managers have a reputation for playing untested youth players in the cup while others will take it more seriously.
Factor in other variables such as injuries, whether the manager of the underdogs has a history of cupsets, and whether there are players who’ve made a habit of scoring in the cup, and with a little luck you could soon be profiting from some FA Cup giant killing.
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