This week our statistician Josh James looks at Arsenal's FA Cup record.

Following Monday night's win over Leeds United, Arsenal have now made it past the Third Round of the FA Cup in each of the past 16 seasons, meaning Arsène Wenger has never gone out of the famous old cup at the first hurdle.

That stat is even more impressive when you realise that, during the Club's 125-year history, Arsenal have been knocked out of the FA Cup at the Third Round stage more often than any other round of the competition.

This is the Gunners' 113th FA Cup campaign – the Third Round was as far as the team got on 18 occasions (17 per cent). The last time Arsenal exited at that stage was 1996, a 1-0 away defeat to Sheffield Wednesday in a replay.

The Club's overall Third Round record is P110 W67 D25 L18, a qualifying success rate of 78.3 per cent (compared to 100 per cent under Arsène Wenger).

Arsenal have entered the FA Cup at the Third Round stage every year since 1925/26, though in three of the 32 campaigns prior to that, they progressed beyond that stage.

In 1945/46, the Gunners were involved in their one and only two-legged FA Cup tie, in the Third Round against West Ham United. League football had still not resumed after World War Two, and the FA decided to play all ties between the First and Sixth Rounds over two legs, in order to boost revenues for the clubs.

Unfortunately the Gunners lost the first leg, at Upton Park, 6-0, and so the 1-0 victory at Highbury in the return leg four days later was largely inconsequential.

Arsenal's Third-Round record
110 67 25 18

Behind The Numbers

Behind The Numbers

One of football's clichés is that going out of the FA Cup early allows a team to 'concentrate on the league'. The stats, however, would point to the contrary. History suggests that the longer Arsenal stay in the Cup, generally the higher they finish in the league.

In three of the 17 league seasons that Arsenal were eliminated in the Third Round (as mentioned earlier, there was no league football in 1945/46) they have gone on to win the league title. That’s once every 5.6 seasons on average, higher than the Club's overall title/season ratio of once every 8.2 seasons in history.

Yet Arsenal's average league position when being knocked out in the Third Round is 7.9, which is inferior to the average league position when going out in each of the subsequent rounds.

Statistically, Arsenal enjoy their best league seasons when losing the FA Cup Final. This has happened seven times, and in those seasons the average finishing position was 4.6 (compared to 6.8 overall).

The general trend is: the further Arsenal go in the FA Cup, the higher up the league table they finish.

When eliminated/average league position (top flight only)
Round reached Occasions Average league position
First 6 12.3
Second 6 13.8
Third 17 7.9
Fourth 15 6.9
Fifth 12 5.5
Quarter-Final 12 4.8
Semi-Final 9 5.4
Final 7 4.6
Win 10 5
Total 94 6.8

The win over Leeds United was Arsenal's 239th all-time FA Cup victory, from 442 games. That's a win rate of 54 per cent but the more pertinent statistic is the success of qualifying rate – Arsenal see off their opposition in the FA Cup (either via replays or at the first time of asking) 69.6 per cent of the time.

Arsenal play an average of 3.9 games per FA Cup campaign, score 7.1 goals, and concede 4.1. An 'average' cup run for the team, since 1925/26, is to reach the Fifth Round.

The most FA Cup games the Club have played in a single season is 11 - in both 1979 and 1980. The 1979 run included five matches to get past Sheffield Wednesday in the Third Round.

The most goals in an FA Cup run (not including preliminary rounds) is 20, in both 1932 and 1979.

The side's biggest win is 12-0 over Ashford United in the first qualifying round of 1893/94. In the tournament proper the record is 11-1, achieved against Darwin in the Third Round of 1931.

In 1973 Arsenal were eliminated at the Semi-Final stage by Sunderland, which meant they would then play their one and only ever FA Cup Third Round Play-off, against Wolves in the August of '73. The Gunners lost 3-1 at Highbury, so that remains the only FA Cup campaign in which Arsenal lost twice.

Arsenal have therefore exited the competition 102 times, of which more than half (55 per cent) were away from home.

The home record is exceptional, especially in more recent times. Monday's 1-0 win was the 11th FA Cup fixture at Emirates Stadium, of which Arsenal have won eight and drawn three, with a +20 goal difference.

Indeed the Gunners have lost only one of the 34 home FA Cup games. That was a 1-0 reverse to Leeds in 1997, which remains Arsène Wenger's solitary home defeat in the competition.

Since then the record is P32 W23 D9 L0 - that despite the boss not winning any of his first five FA Cup games at home. Indeed Arsène didn't win a home FA Cup fixture until 1999, but did lift the trophy in that time.

N.B. The Fourth Round tie with Farnborough Town in 2003 was actually classed as an away fixture, despite being played at Highbury by arrangement.

Overall FA Cup record
442 239 100 103 798 461

Behind The Numbers

Josh James also provides the stats for the Arsenal Analysis pages of the matchday programme. To subscribe, or buy online, click here.

Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to as the source
10 Jan 2012