Interesting statistics for the FA Cup Fi-nil

21/05/2016 | By | Reply More

So the FA Cup final is upon us and, rather predictably, the final has delivered us two premiership teams. But what will the match deliver? Is that going to be as predictable as well?

While today’s match may throw off differing characteristics based on what I saw of Palace last weekend, I’ve delved back over a number of years to see if I can unlock some prevailing trends.

History has shown us, the FA Cup is no particular respecter of individual team strength. Both teams know they are only 90 minutes from glory, so tactics for both teams is geared to the hope that they can get a result. This means that for both teams the overriding fear is not making a mistake. As such, the finals can often be tense, low-scoring matches.

It’s getting tighter as well. I looked at all FA Cup finals and the match results in normal time since the Second World War. Matches with two goals or less account for 58.2% of all finals, extend that to three or less and that figure rises to 73%. The most revealing detail however, is when you plot the average number of goals by era. The trend since the 1940’s is for fewer and fewer goals to be scored.

AVG Goals by decade

When you cut the data to look at the difference between teams it has hovered constantly around the average of one goal between the teams at full time. So the final has been consistently very competitive for each decade since the 1940’s. Of course, statistics can create a ‘flaw of averages’, a big win can be brought back to earth by a stalemate the following year. But competitive tight matches generally appear to be the norm in the FA Cup. Even if you take what looks on the surface as an uncompetitive fixture, they still tend to produce low scoring, tight matches; and that’s getting more and more common. So given that the game is likely to be Spartan on the goal scoring front, when will the first goal arrive?

Time of first goal

Another graph paints a revealing picture for the time of the first goal. On average, when a goal has been scored, it is scored in the 34 minute.  But again, the trend is moving away from an earlier goal. This is quite logical as fewer goals in the match tend to mean they will arrive later.

The interesting thing about this though, occurs when you compare it to when the second goal is likely to be scored. This has remained pretty static over the same period. This suggests that teams generally play the FA Cup Final in a defensive mode with a view to putting not conceding a goal as key. But if a goal is scored then the gloves are off!

Ultimately all this makes perfect sense and you may have figured that the final may be played this manner. But you can now put some numbers on it and get confirmation from my spreadsheet! Bear in mind you should always use statistics carefully, not like a drunk uses a lamppost; for support rather than illumination.

The market is currently pricing in 2.66 goals and supremacy of 1.10 to Arsenal. So if you think either of these is wrong then you should bet or trade accordingly. Given the statistics your core strategies must surely be based around a low scoring tight match. Backing under 2.5 goals and trading out or dutching low scores with less than a goal between them, seem sensible strategies. But if there is an early goal be prepared to change your view.

If you are looking for a much deeper insight into the match then you should look no further than Bet Angel. Bet Angel contains a specialist tool, Soccer Mystic, that allows you to experiment with all the possible scenarios that could occur in the match and project them forward to see how they will impact your bet, trade or cash out value.  It’s a really powerful tool, designed specifically for football markets and it’s free with Bet Angel.

Bet Angel - Soccer Mystic

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Category: Football trading strategies, Trading strategies

About the Author ()

I left a good job in the consumer technology industry to go a trade on Betfair for a living way back in June 2000. I've been here ever since pushing very boundaries of what's possible on betting exchanges and loved every minute of it.

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