Having looked at the last five years of FA Cup surprises in one of my previous post on this subject, I wanted to expand and examine the surprise results in all rounds of the last five seasons of the competition. Let’s first remind ourselves of the biggest third round shocks of recent years.
As the table above shows, there has been at least one third round match per season won by an outsider with odds of at least five (more than 4/1 in fractional odds). Cardiff City’s defeat in this year’s third round was interesting as the Welsh club currently lead the Championship. In the FA Cup third rounds of both 2011 and 2012, Championship clubs who were eventually promoted directly to the Premier League both lost at this stage of the FA Cup. Could this be evidence of promotion chasing teams suffering from resting their first team players? Cardiff’s team at Macclesfield Town in this year’s third round had 11 changes in comparison with the line-up from their last Championship match.
Looking at the complete FA Cup from the last five seasons, we would expect that the number of surprises would decline in later rounds as there are not only fewer matches but also that the rounds naturally whittle out the smaller teams leading to a smaller number of shock opportunities.
This is shown clearly in the table below with none of the top ten biggest shocks of the past five seasons coming in the final three rounds of the competition and only one in round five. There has though, been a fourth round shock in each of the last three seasons. Another interesting thing to note is that all 10 of the biggest surprises are away victories. This indicates how much more likely we are to see a giant-killing if the ‘David’ is at home to the ‘Goliath’.
Supporters of the two league clubs from Nottingham have seen their fair share of FA Cup surprises in recent times. This season’s third round defeat for Nottingham Forest at the hands of League One side Oldham Athletic was the first time in the last five seasons that one of the two clubs had been on the end of a big FA Cup shock. Previously, Notts County had won twice at Premier League clubs and Forest had won comfortably at Manchester City in Sheikh Mansour’s first season at the Etihad Stadium.
So, which of this weekend’s fourth round ties might join the above list?