Football / Analysis / Likelihood Of An Fa Cup Upset 30 12 2009

Likelihood of an FA Cup upset (30/12/2009)

Our free assessment of whether there are likely to be any Cup upsets this weekend.

Hartlepool beat Stoke in the FA Cup 2009 Third Round


The days when Premier League leaders such as Leeds went crashing out of the Cup at the first time of asking to an unfancied side may seem like a distant memory, but there is a very good chance of some modicum of Cup upset this weekend.

What registers as an upset these days is when a Premier League team get bounced out by a team from the nether regions of the league or a side made up of firemen, plumbers and postmen. The latter shouldn’t happen because of the 32 Premier League teams to crash out to a lower league team at the first time of asking, none have done so to a non-league team - several draws (7) but no defeats. Stoke and Sunderland, who host York and Barrow, should be safe for another round.

17 Premier League sides have lost to Championship teams in the third round, excluding replays, but that barely registers as an upset unless it’s a side with a rich Cup pedigree and only two, Liverpool (2005) and Spurs (2006), have suffered that fate recently. 5/17 lost at home, including Man City last year when they were thumped 3-0 by Nottingham Forest.

The greater value lies in identifying the League One or Two team that’s likely to inflict pain on one of the big boys, without needing a replay, because although only three of 48 managed to do so from 1993 to 2000, 10 of 49 have done so since. In eight of the last 10 years there has been at least one such defeat in the third round and last year it was Stoke’s turn at Hartlepool. Everton (h), Fulham (h), Man Utd (h), Burnley (a) and Wolves (a) face such opposition this time.

Seven of the 10 successful teams came from League One which gives them a very impressive 28% strike rate against Premier League teams since 1999 (W7-D6-L12, W5-D3-L4 at home) compared to 17% for those in the Championship (W12-D18-L41, W8-D13-L20).  

It makes little difference whether the lower division side is flying high in their own league and less than you might think based on where the match is played (4/10 Premier League sides lost at their own grounds). As you would expect, seven of the 10 Premier League sides were in the bottom half of the table which throws up Burnley, Wolves and Everton as obvious candidates. Everton should be wary because they account for two of those 10 defeats – two years ago at home to Oldham and seven years ago away to League Two, Shrewsbury. It means they have lost 2/6 in the third round against teams’ two leagues or more below them. Burnley (2.1) and Wolves (1.8) are most vulnerable travelling as they do to League One opposition – MK Dons (4) and Tranmere (5) respectively. Burnley have yet to win away this season and won only three of their last 12 in the Championship last season.

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