By Tony Attwood
Arsenal have appeared in 17 FA Cup finals, a figure only exceeded by Man U with 18. Arsenal have won the cup 10 times, a figure only exceeded by Man U with 11.
Only one manager has won the FA Cup more than once – Arsene Wenger, who has won it four times. The other winners were George Graham, Terry Neill, Bertie Mee, Tom Whittaker, George Allison and Herbert Chapman each (obviously) winning it just the once.
In terms of the team behind Arsenal in relation to FA Cup success, in relation to wins, we have Tottenham with eight. The last Tottenham win in the FA Cup was in 1991 (which is a bit sad for a club that has built its reputation on Cup success, having only won the league twice). Arsenal’s last success was 2005.
We all know how successful those who are against the Arsenal have been in creating the notion of disaster around the fact that we haven’t won a trophy since 2005 but it is interesting that of these top three FA Cup performers Arsenal have won the cup the most recently. Man U haven’t won the FA Cup since 2004.
But leaving all that aside it is interesting to look at the way Arsenal’s success and failure in the Cup has progressed.
And indeed to ask – is the current run really bad, when considered in the context of Arsenal’s history?
Arsenal had 16 years of entry into the FA Cup before getting to their first semi-final in 1906 – and then in fact made it to the semis the following year as well.
After that (and excluding the years when the cup was not competed for, owing to the wars), Arsenal had 15 years of non-appearances in the semis before going one better and reaching the final in 1927 – only to lose to Cardiff.
But then in the 10 years between 1927 and 1936, Arsenal won the cup twice, were beaten finalists twice, and knocked out in the semi-final once.
To make the contrast clear, in the first 31 years of the club Arsenal made it to the semi final just twice, and then in 10 years made the semi-final or better five times. The reason was, of course, the combined might of Herbert Chapman and Sir Henry Norris.
In the post war era Arsenal won the cup in 1950 and then had 20 years of nothingness – including some fairly awful giant killing episodes before winning the Cup as part of the first double in 1971. We also made the final the following year and the semis in 1972 – three semi finals or better in three years.
Next a four year break before the famous Terry Neill trilogy of three finals in three years – although only one was won (1978/80). Adding the whole of the 10 years from 1970/1 to 1979/80 Arsenal won the Cup twice, were beaten finalists three times, and once made the semis.
So that’s six semi-finals or better in ten years – beating the achievement of Chapman and Allison.
Then we had semi finals in 1983 and 1991 before the victory in 1993, but the next really good run went from 1997/8 through to 2008/9 – an 11 year spell, in which we won the cup four times, were beaten in the final once, and were knocked out in three semi-finals. Eight semi-finals plus, in 11 years – the best ever run for the club.
So our best cup runs were…
- 1997/8 to 2008/9 (four wins, one runner up and three semi-finals)
- 1970/1 to 1979/80 Arsenal won the Cup twice, were beaten finalists three times, and once made the semis.
- 1927 to 1936: ( won the cup twice, were beaten finalists twice, and knocked out in the semi-final once).
The worst of times of no progress beyond the quarter finals were
- 1951/1970 – 20 seasons
- 1890/1906 – 17 seasons
The amazing thing is that despite these long spells without even reaching the semis we are still right up there at the top in terms of cup triumphs.
One final thought
- We have been knocked out in the semi finals 9 times
- We have lost in the final 7 times
- We have won the FA Cup 10 times.
So having got to the final statistically the most likely outcome is to win the Cup.