If Arsenal get through against Hull in the fifth round of the FA Cup, a quarter final tie against Watford is what awaits. And to every non-Arsenal fan’s fury and frustration, Arsenal were once more drawn at home.
Since Arsene Wenger became Arsenal manager, we have been drawn at home in the FA Cup 39 times. And drawn away 27. In a 50/50 chance, Arsenal have been drawn at home 59% of the time.
“But that does not add up, it must be a fix” I hear the less well educated (Spurs fans, Northerners) cry.
Well it does not add up because you do not know statistics.
Yes, it is a 50/50 chance of being at home, but that does not mean that when the data is crunched, you should see an exact 50% split. Especially when the data pool is as small as 66.
Do not believe me? Flip a coin. 66 times. Write down how many heads, how many tails. I did it. 37 heads, 29 tails. Or 56% heads. You see, what you must remember is that each time you flip the coin, or a ball is drawn, the previous times have no barring. Each individual event has a 50/50 chance of happening each time. In other words, just because you flipped heads last time, does not mean you will flip tails this time.
Now of course, the larger the data pool, the closer to 50% you will get with a 50/50 chance. So if I flipped my coin 1,000,000 times, it will be closer to 50% than when I flipped it just 66 times. Because what it does not account for his runs, streaks. For example, I got 9 heads in a row when doing this task.
At some point, the statistics say that I will probably get 9 tails in a row and it will even itself out. That is true. But over time it will even out, not over just 66.
I bet if we increased our data pool, and rather than looked at how often Arsenal have been drawn at home since Arsene Wenger took over, we went for the entire history of Arsenal, the statistics would be closer to 50%. Arsenal are just on a streak of home games, just like I had a streak of heads.
It is just the luck of the draw.
“Arsenal always get easy draws” I hear the bitters cry out as a secondary argument.
Well this once again is not Arsenal’s fault.
In 2013/14, is it Arsenal’s fault that Manchester United could not beat Swansea at home in the 3rd round? Or in the fifth round that Manchester City knocked out Chelsea, before getting knocked out by Wigan Athletic? And do we just forget that Arsenal knocked out Spurs, Liverpool and Everton that season?
Fast forward to 2014/15. Chelsea lost at home in the 4th round to Bradford. Is it Arsenal’s fault that they were unable to face Chelsea due to them being unable to win at home against a League 2 side? No.
Is it Arsenal’s fault that Spurs could not get past a then-bottom-of-the-table Leicester City at home? Or that Manchester City lost to Championship side Middlesbrough? Arsenal can not help it if our opponents keep losing before we play them. Coincidently, had Manchester City had won, we would have played them in the 5th round, where we instead knocked out Middlesbrough.
In the 6th round of the 2014/15 season, Arsenal played away to Manchester United, and won. So that is Manchester United, Liverpool, Everton & Spurs beaten in 2 seasons. Not our fault Chelsea and Man City lost before we could play them.
And then the semi-finals. Liverpool lost to Aston Villa at Wembley, before Aston Villa were thrashed by Arsenal in the final. I am sure it would have been great for Steven Gerrard’s last game in England to be in an FA Cup final, but it is not Arsenal’s fault Liverpool did not make it, but Gerrard and his team mates.
Even this season, Spurs lost at home to Crystal Palace – the 2nd time in two years that they have been knocked out at home,
So opposing fans, you can moan all you like, but it is not Arsenal’s fault you keep getting knocked out before you get to play the mighty Arsenal. Maybe if your sides were better, you might actually get the chance of playing us in a semi final or final?
And has anyone actually looked to see who other teams play on route to winning the FA Cup?
Well the last time Spurs won it in 1991, they obviously beat Arsenal. But their route to the semi final? A 4th tier side (Blackpool) and 2nd tier sides (Oxford United, Portsmouth & Notts County). Arsenal were the first top tier team they played that year.
How about Manchester United in 1998/99? Their treble year? It is never mentioned that they were drawn at home in every round of the FA Cup. All that is mentioned is that they won it.
And that is what is key. Who wins it. No one remembers who you played on the way. No one really cares.Portsmouth played one Premier League side when they won the FA Cup in 2008. Wigan Athletic just the 2. But who cares? No one.
It does just make me laugh when the draws happen. Because at the end of the day, it is a 50/50 chance of you being drawn home or away, and it does not matter who you play as long as you win. History will remember the winners. Not who they beat.
The only certainty that there is in the FA Cup is that over the last 25 years, Spurs have not won it. And it is for that reason that they are so bitter.
Bring on Hull, bring on Watford, and let’s go to Wembley again!