Time for an English Renaissance ?
Arsene Wenger will be looking to secure a record 12th FA Cup for Arsenal as his side face Aston Villa at Wembley on Saturday. Victory for the Gunners would also see Wenger go level with former Aston Villa manager George Ramsey as the manager with the most FA Cup titles ever. A feat that new Villa manager Tim Sherwood will be looking to avoid.
The head-to-head record between the two managers sees Wenger with the upper hand. The two meetings between the pair during Sherwood’s tenure at Tottenham saw Wenger get the better of Sherwood on both occasions. A 2-0 win in FA Cup third round at the Emirates last season, quickly followed up two months later by a 1-0 away win at White Hart Lane in the league.
The results between the two sides were very one sided this season while former boss Paul Lambert was still at the helm. Arsenal won 3-0 at Villa Park in September and then followed up with a 5-0 home win at the Emirates in February. The two wins see Wenger’s men go into Saturday’s final 8-0 up on aggregate this season.
While Arsenal look to retain the FA Cup and secure their second back-to-back trophy, a feat they last achieved in the 2001/02 and 2002/03 seasons, Aston Villa will be looking to secure their first FA Cup in 58 years when they beat Manchester United 2-1 in the 1957 final.
Aston Villa have the better win rate in FA Cup finals. They have won 7 of the 10 finals they have reached, a success rate of 70%. While Arsenal have managed 11 FA Cup final wins in 19 attempts, a slightly lesser success rate of 58%.
One interesting fact that appears firmly in Arsene Wenger’s favour is that since the 2002/03 season the FA Cup final has been won by the side that has fielded the fewest English players. In the 2002 final Arsenal beat Chelsea 2-0 with the help of David Seaman, Sol Campbell, Tony Adams, Ashley Cole and Ray Parlour, all five began the game. Chelsea only started two Englishmen, Frank Lampard and Graeme Le Saux.
Arsenal fielded two Englishmen in their semi-final against Reading – Kieran Gibbs and Danny Welbeck. Aston Villa on the other hand started a total of five against Liverpool – Nathan Baker, Kieran Richardson, Tom Cleverley, Ashley Westwood and Fabian Delph.
The facts and stats support a comfortable win for Wenger’s men. But this is the FA Cup, and in the FA Cup… anything can happen.
Stats and Infographic supplied by Opta-powered fantasy football game www.oulala.com