This weekend sees the FA Cup return to our screens and even though the Premier League’s elite still value this competition very highly, it would be fair to say that the final four are surprising to say the least. While Arsenal are always tipped for some sort of domestic cup surge following the ten FA Cup trophies they have accumulated over the years, the likes of Wigan, Hull and Sheffield United will not have been expecting themselves to be in this position at the start of the season.
Bearing the above in mind, there are certainly a few interesting statistics flying around ahead of the big semi-final weekend. Here’s our favourite ten…
1) Unsurprisingly, Arsenal have won the competitions the most having lifted the FA Cup on no fewer than ten occasions. However, the other sides have also tasted success, with Wigan being the shock winners last year while Sheffield United have won the tournament four times. Hull are the only team out of the four not to have won it in the past.
2) Sheffield United are the lowest placed club out of the remaining teams. The Blades are currently sat in the mid-table regions of League One, having knocked out higher sides such as Charlton, Nottingham Forest, Fulham and Aston Villa in previous rounds.
3) Only six outfits have ever successfully retained the FA Cup. Arsenal are one of them, while Wigan have the opportunity to add to this list if they can overcome the two games at Wembley.
4) The last time Wigan and Arsenal played each other was last year, in the Premier League. The Gunners overcame their opponents in 4-1 fashion; a result that would consign Wigan to relegation to the Championship.
5) It was 2010 when Sheffield United and Hull were last paired together, with the Tigers triumphing with a 3-2 result. This was another game associated with relegation, with the Blades being sent down to League One just several months later.
6) Both matches will be kicking off seven minutes past the hour, with Wigan v Arsenal being at 17.07 on Saturday while Hull v Sheffield United will start at 16.07 on the Sunday. This is to mark the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster.
7) Sheffield United’s Chris Porter is the top scorer in the competition out of these four teams, with the Blades’ striker netting four goals so far. If he adds to his tally, he’ll be the joint-leader for the Golden Boot accolade.
8) The eventual winner of the FA Cup will qualify to play in next season’s Europa League. With Arsenal poised for European qualification anyway because of their league position, it means that the runners-up of the event could benefit. Theoretically, this could mean that League One team Sheffield United could be playing against some of Europe’s biggest clubs next year.
9) Nigel Clough has the chance to achieve something that his famous father Brian never did this year. Clough Snr may be regarded as one of the best managers that the English game has ever produced, but he was never able to get his hands on the FA Cup trophy.
10) Arsene Wenger is the only manager out of the four to win the FA Cup. From a playing perspective, Steve Bruce lifted the trophy on three occasions during his successful spell with Manchester United. Nigel Clough and Uwe Rosler have no past success in the competition