The FA Cup has taken a bit of a kicking over the past few years.
There have, of course, been a few notable upsets in recent times, such as Wigan’s final triumph in 2013 and the giant-killing exploits of the likes of Bradford City last season.
But, for all there has been the occasional fairytale cup run and shock result, 20 of the last 24 FA Cup finals have been won by either Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool or Manchester United. The final has also seen its kick-off time changed from the traditional 3pm and even played on the same day as Premier League fixtures.
It almost feels like the FA Cup final itself has become something of an anti-climax, both to the domestic season as a whole and compared to the rollercoaster events of the previous rounds.
So, on that basis, it would seem like hoping for another Arsenal win in the competition in the coming season would be the last thing that would be required to reapply the sheen to the FA Cup. Yet, conversely that could be precisely what helps the FA Cup final to recapture the general public’s imagination when cup final day used to be an all-day event.
Arsenal will be aiming to create history by becoming the first team since the 19th century to win the FA Cup for three seasons in a row. Only Wanderers in the 1870s and Blackburn in the 1880s can point to a hat-trick of FA Cup final wins.
Given Arsenal’s overall record in the FA Cup, especially in recent years, they should arguably be favourites in the FA Cup betting to win it again. The Gunners hold the record for the most number of wins in the final at 12, and also the most appearances, with the club just one away from 20.
Even with the dominance of the bigger clubs in the FA Cup, the opportunity to complete a hat-trick of wins doesn’t come around very often.
Chelsea won in 2009 and 2010, having also won in 2007, but were beaten on penalties by Everton in the fourth round in 2011. Tottenham’s bid for a hat-trick, after being victorious in 1981 and 1982, also came unstuck against Everton as they lost 2-0 at Goodison Park in the fifth round in 1983.
Arsenal have come as close as anyone in recent years. They won the FA Cup in 2002 and 2003, having lost to Liverpool in the final in 2001. In 2004, Arsenal were beaten by a Paul Scholes goal for Manchester United in the semi-finals at Villa Park. Given that Millwall were the other finalists that year, a hat-trick would arguably have been inevitable. Arsenal did exact revenge over United by winning the 2005 final on penalties.
So, while another final win for one of the Premier League’s big four would initially seem like a way of turning fans and viewers off the competition even more, actually being able to witness history in the making could be just the shot in the arm the FA Cup needs.