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June 2021

Which is the most successful team in the FA Cup and in FA Cup/League doubles?

By Tony Attwood

As I guess we all know, no club has won the FA Cup three times running since Blackburrn Rovers in 1886.  Before them, one team, Wanderers, also did it three times in a row.  In the past 131 years (or to be more accurate 122, to account for the war years) no team has won the Cup three times in a row.

But over the years a few teams have managed to dominate cup finals and occasionally come close to that elusive three in a row.

Looking at clubs in that category in the era since the second world war, Newcastle were the first dominant team, winning it three times in five years – 1951, 1952 and 1955.

Arsenal however never had much of a reputation in the FA Cup, appearing in four FA Cup finals pre-war (winning two) and just two (1950 and 1952) in the post war era until Bertie Mee came on the scene.

Then in 1971 and 1972 Mee took Arsenal to two successive finals – winning just the first, to complete the double in 1971 by beating Liverpool.   The following year we lost 1-0 to Leeds.

Manchester United were the first team to emulate Newcastle with three finals in short succession in a run in which Arsenal also cropped up becoming the first post-war team to get to three finals in a row.

Man Utd appeared in 1976 (losing to Southampton) in 1977 beating Liverpool and 1979 losing to Arsenal.

Arsenal’s run meanwhile started in that intervening year losing to Ipswich in 1978 (that one was painful) beating Manchester United 3-2 in 1979 with Sunderland’s last minute winner which I think he’s still celebrating, and then ludicrously losing 1-0 to West Ham in 1980.

That run of three appearances in a row is incredibly rare, but Arsenal did it again at the start of the new century, losing to Liverpool in 2001, beating Chelsea in 2002 and then beating Southampton in 2003.  In fact Arsenal made it four appearances in five years beating Man Utd on penalties in 2005.  That is the best run of any team since Blackburn Rovers three in a row:

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Season Winners Score Defeated finalists Notes
2000–01 Liverpool 2–1 Arsenal
2001–02 Arsenal 2–0 Chelsea
2002–03 Arsenal 1–0 Southampton
2004–05 Arsenal 0–0  Manchester United Won on pens

Chelsea’s best run then occurred winning the cup three times in four years in 2009, 2010, and 2012.

Season Winners Score Runners up
2008–09 Chelsea 2–1 Everton
2009–10 Chelsea 1–0 Portsmouth
2011–12 Chelsea 2–1 Liverpool

Our current run started of course in 2014, beating Hull, and then beating Villa the following year to win the cup each time.  And so we were now approaching our third final in four years, achieving that for the second time.

This final makes Arsenal the all time most successful club in the FA Cup, and Mr Wenger the all time most successful manager.

This will be our 20th final – one more than Manchester United.  Liverpool come third with 14 finals and Newcastle and Everton joint fourth with 13.

Club Wins First final won Last final won Runners-up Last final lost Total final appearances
Arsenal 12 1930 2015 7 2001 20 inc 2017
Manchester United 12 1909 2016 7 2007 19
Tottenham Hotspur 8 1901 1991 1 1987 9
Liverpool 7 1965 2006 7 2012 14
Aston Villa 7 1887 1957 4 2015 11
Chelsea 7 1970 2012 4 2002 12 inc 2017

As the table above shows there is quite a difference between the top six clubs in terms of FA Cup wins, in that neither Tottenham nor Villa have won the FA Cup in the current century.  Tottenham however have the most successful run in terms of the final, having lost just one in nine, although they have not been to the final in 16 years.   And given that the FA Cup is the competition in which they have the most success, that is quite a long period.

Just to go back a step to the semi-finals and updating the chart to include this season we have…

Team Appearances Won Lost % success
Arsenal 29 20 9 69%
Manchester United 28 19 9 68%
Everton 26 13 13 50%
Liverpool 24 14 10 58%
Aston Villa 21 11 10 52%
Chelsea 22 12 10 45%
West Bromwich Albion 20 10 10 50%
Tottenham Hotspur 20 9 11 45%
Blackburn Rovers 18 8 10 44%

Thus showing that although Tottenham do indeed have a remarkable level of achievement once they get to the final, they actually have a lower percentage success rate in the semi-finals.

Just to finish off all the charts, since if we lose Chelsea will win the Double, so here is the list of FA Cup and League Championship Double winners.

ason Club Trophies Won Number of
1889 Preston North End Championship
FA Cup
1897 Aston Villa Championship
FA Cup
1961 Tottenham Hotspur Championship
FA Cup
1971 Arsenal Championship
FA Cup
1986 Liverpool Championship
FA Cup
1994 Manchester United Championship
FA Cup
1996 Manchester United Championship
FA Cup
1998 Arsenal Championship
FA Cup
2002 Arsenal Championship
FA Cup
2010 Chelsea Championship
FA Cup


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5 comments to Which is the most successful team in the FA Cup and in FA Cup/League doubles?

  • Brickfields Gunners

    In 1973 , we almost made it to the final , losing to THAT great Sunderland team in the sf.

  • Minesy

    You missed out United in 1999 as far as past Double winners go …

  • After initially being told by Arsenal that i had been unfortunate in the ballot they then came back on two separate occasions and offered me two tickets
    Crazy ended up with five . Life is strange for sure could be an omen

  • para

    Lets hope the lads want to win(of course they do) i mean the want seeps out into their demeanor and shows in their performance, we cannot ask for more than that.

  • Gord

    OT: Corruption News

    It would appear that the Swedish press thinks there is widespread corruption in football. Any bet the British press keeps its head in the sand?

    IT APPEARS that match fixing is endemic throughout all levels of sport in all countries, after a game in the Swedish top level was cancelled over allegations of corruption.

    The Swedish top-flight fixture between Gothenburg and AIK has been postponed after an alleged match-fixing attempt.

    It is the referees _JOB_ to ensure a safe game:

    “The starting point for all of our games is that they are safe and settled on sporting grounds. Based on the information we have, we cannot guarantee that.”

    There is no mention of 😈 Mike Riley (or PGMO) in the article.