Arsenal have won the FA Cup more than any other team – but no one will celebrate

By Bulldog Drummond

Arsenal have won the FA Cup more than any other team.  They have also appeared in the final of the competition more than any other team except Manchester United, who have 20 final appearances – exactly the same as do Arsenal.   Arsenal also have had the manager – Mr Wenger – who won the final more than any other manager in the entire and total history of the FA Cup.  He won it seven times.

As for this weekend’s rivals, Leeds United, they have won the FA Cup once, which is 12 times fewer than Arsenal.   They have been in the final four times, which is 16 times fewer than Arsenal.

FA Cup winners and runners’ up.
Club Wins First final won Last final won Runners-up Last final lost Total final
Arsenal 13 1930 2017 7 2001 20
Leeds United 1 1972 1972 3 1973 4

Now, if you had perhaps not been taking much notice of how the media treats Arsenal you might expect them to be up and running with some anticipation about Arsenal extending their remarkable record.  Or maybe wondering if Chelsea or Tottenham could win the FA Cup five years running in order to equal Arsenal’s amazing achievement.

But what we do find as Arsenal take on Leeds?

The opening paragraph – and let me stress this really is the opening paragraph – of the Guardian’s analysis (I use the word  “analysis” in its broadest sense) of the Arsenal v Leeds game says

A Mick Jones dash to the byline, his looped cross into the box and Allan “Sniffer” Clarke’s diving header taking its time to hit the back of the net and win the match: to those who grew up when the FA Cup remained sacrosanct the centenary final of 1972 will forever tie the names of Leeds United and Arsenal together.

In short they celebrate not the 13 times Arsenal have won the cup – indeed there is no mention in the entire article that Arsenal are the team that has won the cup more than any other – but rather the single occasion on which Leeds won the cup.

So who wrote this stuff?  Well it turns out that his last venture into anything north Londonish was a piece with the headline “The latest embarrassment for an ailing north London institution?”   You are probably starting to get the picture here.

Now of course I’ve got no problem with Leeds celebrating their one and only win of the FA Cup, but when one of the clubs in a match has won the cup once and the other 13 times it seems a little odd to focus on the one.   Of course if Leeds beat Arsenal this time around, that would be an occasion to look back in their history and remember the one time this has happened before, but to make this the big tale, and ignore that record holders…

It is a bit like having a 200 metre race in which there is the world champion with a record number of wins, but for the commentator to focus instead on the 100-1 outsider who once won the race many years before…  There is a fact in there somewhere but it is hardly the key one most people know.

Of course such commentators don’t do that.  But in football it is different.  Or rather with Arsenal it is different.  The successes of Arsenal are not to be commemorated.  Instead it is Leeds’ one victory that is of note.  And I don’t mind celebrating Leeds’ one victory in the FA Cup.   But maybe alongside that we might mention that Arsenal won it in 2014, 2015 and 2017.

“Get over it,” is the normal response when I raise issues like this, but I keep raising them, because they do mean something.   They are the media’s way of ceaselessly putting Arsenal down.  Celebrations of Arsenal being the most successful club in the FA Cup?  Forget it.  Let’s celebrate Leeds one and only win.

The point is that that this ceaseless denigration of all Arsenal’s achievements does have an impact – in fact it has multiple impacts.  It reduces other commentators’ vision of the club, it makes players less likely to sign for Arsenal, it reduces supporters’ faith in the club, it lowers the club’s profile.

As for why the media does this, the answer is because that is what the media does.  It has become a habit.  There are always far more negative stories about Arsenal than there are positive stories, and the FA cup is a big positive story for Arsenal so it needs to be cut out of the narrative.

If you would like to know more about how the media always put Arsenal down, you might like to have a look at our Knocking Arsenal page.


25 Replies to “Arsenal have won the FA Cup more than any other team – but no one will celebrate”

  1. Arsenal is playing Leeds in the FA cup, it makes absolute sense to remember a memorable fa cup tie between the two sides. It’s not an arsenal publication so it surprises me that anybody would expect a celebration of arsenal’s FA cup history. Frankly your obsession with looking for media bias is becoming paranoia

  2. An interesting diagnosis doctor. But I fear a little for your medical credentials even though you have “Dr” as the opening letters of your email address. Really if you are a medical doctor you should be utterly ashamed of yourself – and indeed reported to the GMC for giving out a diagnosis for a psychological condition of obsessive behaviour based on reading a few articles. If you are not a medical doctor and have a PhD in something else, it might be best to stick with your subject. And if you aren’t then perhaps best to lay off the mental health diagnoses.

  3. @Deb,

    you are so right…

    as far as I am concerned, with my german roots, the 3 Lions will always be remember as the team we love to beat in the World Cup and against whom we won a breathtaking game in the 1970 WC in Mexico, coming back from a 2-0 deficit to finally win 3-2 in overtime.

    And, looking at the statistics of the Germany-Englad tie, truth is that England has only beaten Germany once in the WC since it existed, for 3 losses to Germany and one tie.

    Have I stated anything that is wrong here or forgotten something ?

    Ps : I hope Amy “Only” Lawrence will be proud of me…

  4. You are a brave man reading The Guardian. You are a brave man reading the majority of the rubbish put out in the media. I would say to Deb, frankly You have not been following Arsenal with your eye open if you question the reporting of media bias. It is to use current terminology very clear and obvious that such bias exists. Being able to understand this reporting is not a form of paranoia. I am thankful to untold for the time they take with the media nonsense as it means I do not have to trawl my way through the rubbish pit of poor reporting without inquisition. To deny the bias which is blatant and continued is rather Hans Christian Anderson of you. It may be better if both Deb and Chris keep their comments for The guardian where they may get Browny points for detachtment from reality and an Ignoble ward for the search for Dark Matter. I suspect them both of being twitteratti who may now be suffering nosebleed from writing in sentences instead of symbols and emojis. I wonder whether either are actually Arsenal supporters or are they bored spuds spreading the swamp dirt of the marshes they have escaped from.

  5. DR Deb

    “Paranoia is an instinct or thought process which is believed to be heavily influenced by anxiety or fear, often to the point of delusion and irrationality.”

    Well I don’t think Tony or in fact any of us are suffering from anxiety or fear due to the media, a bit pissed off maybe.

    Now being deluded or irrational might of held up if only it wasn’t for the massive amount of examples highlighted by Tony and others over the years to show there’s nothing irrational about it at all.

    Foot.Lon with is 20 negative articles about Arsenal a day for 1. Adrian Durham’s ‘Daily Arse’ for another.

    Name me one other club that has had a DAILY article broadcast simply to criticise them?

    Almost every ex Arsenal player that now works in the media hardly has a good word to say about us.

    Measure that against the positivity expressed about Liverpool by their ex players over the years.
    Until this year they hadn’t won a title since the 80’s but you would never of known it.

    Once Arsenal had gone just 2 or 3 years without a title it was rammed down everyone’s throat every time we walked on the pitch.

    And don’t get me started on Spurs. Yet when Pochettino got sacked one hack was gutted for him as he’d started the ‘Tottenham revolution’. Revolution !!!

    If the French revolution was as successful as Tottenhams we’d never of heard of Napoleon and France would still be a Monarchy.

    I have highlighted recently flagrant lies peddled by the media as fact, such as Arsenal have been in decline for 10 years from Ornstein, which is clearly un true.

    The examples of this blatant media bias have been published on untold many many times, but if you want to simply ignore them and call us all paranoid that’s up to you, but I’d much rather you show us how other clubs receive the same level of media critisism, but you wont, because I’ve called you out for errors before and you conveniently ignore me.

    Now talking of paranoia.

    We face the same accusations regarding our criticisms of the PGMOL and referees in relation to their application of red and yellow cards, as well as the awarding of penalties.

    It is my view, and the view of many other regulars on Untold that we get a very rough ride on both these counts, and many statistics have been produced that I believe substantiate this preposition.

    In that regard, somebody the other day asked when this bias began and I suggested it started around the time Mike Riley took over at the PGMOL. I also suggested that somebody had done an article on that very subject. I went a hunting and finally found it.

    It’s a very interesting analysis, not only of cards but penalty awards as well.

    Now given the amount of words that have been written on this subject it is obviously very close to Untolds heart. I know it is mine.

    Anyway, bellow is a link to the article. It was published by a poster called Vince back in February 2017 under the heading:


    It makes very interesting reading.

    NOTE: I obviously have not had time to confirm these statistics but neither now or at the time did I have reason to believe Vince just made them up.

  6. There’s two good Guardian cup articles today. One pro Leeds & the other pro Arsenal.

  7. This is like the time when the media kept reminding all that England had beat Germany 5-1 in a qualifier even after Germany had made improvements to their team and the English team had regressed.

  8. @ Deb & Gooner S

    I fully accept they might focus on the lower league side and indeed make reference to the only time the two teams met in the final. It’s just not as simple as that. How many times do we have to listen to Man U’s 20 league titles or Liverpool’s 6 European Cups? yet when we enter the third round of the FA Cup and a major newspaper talks about it, the very least they can do is mention in passing who holds the record. We ceaselessly heard about it every time Man U played a Cup game when they shared the record but now we hold the record on our own, not a dickie bird.

    @ Nitram

    Riley’s anti-Arsenal approach was well rooted in his love of all things Man U. In the season prior to when he stuffed us in the 50th game he also achieved another miraculous landmark that I’ve mentioned before. 2003/04 was, I believe, the season he refereed 49 games all told. 41 did not involve Man U and he awarded one penalty in those games. In the eight games in which Man U were involved he awarded nine penalties. Quite a remarkable statistic in itself. The fact that all nine were awarded to Man U seems to demonstrate the depths to which Riley will stoop to achieve his objectives. The only mention I can find in the media is in the Guardian in relation to the 50th game where, in an article entitled “the 10 dodgiest penalties awarded at Old Trafford” it says, “Nonetheless, it was the 8th penalty awarded to United by Mike Riley at Old Trafford in as many appearances there.”

    Given he was never pulled up for such brazen “refereeing” performances and was actually given the top job, it’s hardly surprising that he believes he can get away with absolutely anything nowadays.

  9. Mikey

    I’ve seen that statistic from you before and quite honestly it’s unbelievable.

    As you say, the fact no questions were asked, and worse, he was appointed head of the PGMOL, is not only a disgrace, but surely indicative of the fact that far from discouraging bias, it is in fact De Rigueur if you want to succeed.

    “…it’s hardly surprising that he believes he can get away with absolutely anything nowadays”. Exactly.

  10. @Nitram,

    “If the French revolution was as successful as Tottenhams we’d never of heard of Napoleon and France would still be a Monarchy.”

    Dude, you just made my day !

  11. OT: Stupid things in the Medja

    There was an article about Everton signing “that Italian” 🙂 and how they would be playing Brexit football. I noted on Untold, that to me, to Brexit football was to play to get relegated (to exit the EPL). And over the weekend Everton did just that again, losing to Liverpool. Obviously losing a FA Cup game is not going to get them relegated, but it does go to form.

    So, maybe Everton is going to get their Brexit?

  12. I recently looked up all of Atkinson’s and Dean’s records in a particular database. In 2001/2, Mike Dean was the referee for two successive home games of Fulham (Aug 22 win over Sunderland, 2 yellows and Aug 25 draw with Derby, 5 yellows). Both EPL games.

    I thought I had seen other occurrences where over successive games, the same referee was used. But, in looking through my stuff now, I am not seeing it.

  13. I really don’t know why I have lost the ability to explain the position on this blog about newspaper commentaries, but I have. Having two articles in the guardian, is neither here nor there. What is indicative is the overall attitude of the media
    Try going back to by way of example. there’s a lot more on the site expanding on this theme but that is a good place to start.

  14. Successive games. Newcastle had Mike Dean at home on Dec 5 to Arsenal (5 yellows in the draw) and away to Wigan on Dec 26 (loss with 5 yellows). The Fulham pair previously mentioned. Aston Villa away to West Ham Dec 5 2001 (draw with 3 cards) and Aston Villa at home Dec 17 2001 (win with 1 card). Wimbledon away to Middlesbrough in the loss with 2 yellows on 6 Feb 2001 and home again to Middlesbrough on the FA Cup repeat with 4 yellows on 1 red on 13 Feb 2001. The doubled up FA Cup thing again between Hereford (old) and Leicester in Dec 1999. And in Sep 1998, Birmingham home to Grimsby in League 1 (loss with 4 cards) and Birmingham home to Macclesfield in EnglishLeagueCup (win with no cards).

    All of the above is Mike Dean. I didn’t look at Atkinson (yet).

  15. Atkinson has a double appearance for Halifax in the Football Conference (both at home) the first game a loss to Burton with 2 cards, and the second a win against Leigh Genesis with 2 cards. The second incident are two successive games with Southport in the Football Conference, the first an away loss for Southport with 3 cards, and the second a Southport home loss to Dag & Red (Daggenham and Redbridge?) with 2 cards. Both are in 2003.

  16. @Tony, I’m actually a medical doctor. Thanks for noticing. I don’t see why I should be ashamed of that, and indeed the number of articles that suggest your paranoia aren’t few by any means

  17. I have not meant to suggest you should be ashamed of being a medical doctor – simply that your diagnosis is made on such very shaky evidence you should be ashamed of making that diagnosis. I suspect your best course of action might be to refer yourself to the GMC.

  18. As a medical doctor for the last 36 years, and the resident medico on this blog for the last ten years or so , I can truly saw that ‘is Lordship , has been certified sane and in no way exhibiting any form of bias or paranoia .

    Rather he still keeps the faith and our proud standard blowing in the faces of those clowns and morons who derides us at every turn .

    Rather , he has consistently called out the fakeness , bias and the Arsenal bashing in the media and by the so called ‘experts ‘ . The EPL is fixed . The PIGMOB are crooked.
    The less said by the gutter press , the better . As none of our ‘dissident’ ex-players are a success as managers or coaches , or generally in their personel lives , let us push them out our our future .

    Hope I have not missed out anyone else ? Here , have an apple , doc !

  19. Dr Deb

    After caring out an in depth examination of everything you’ve had to say over the last few weeks I can finally give you my carefully considered diagnosis:

    You are unfortunately suffering from a nasty little condition called chronic-hyper-congenital-trollitis.

    In laymen’s terms, you are a ‘Troll’

    It’s not your fault as it’s an hereditary condition that’s probably laid dormant for many years, and has only been triggered by the realisation that people can write sentences that actually make sense, which is obviously something you have been struggling to come to terms with.

    Not to worry, there are many facilities set up specifically with people like you in mind, who, as hard as they try, cant make any sense at all. Facilities such as ‘The Grove’ or ‘AFTV’, to name but 2, who would be more than happy to hear your inane, senseless drivel all day long.

    To be fair to you I am not a Doctor in the conventional sense of the word, but I have read ‘Medical Diagnosing for Dummies’ which seems to put me on a similar level of medical expertise as your good self.

    In the mean time, make yourself a nice cup of tea, have a sit down, and most importantly stop bashing away at that keep board because your just making yourself look silly now.

  20. As well as the condition Nitram describes I think Dr Deb also suffers from a severe case of obsessive-compulsive disorder where Tony and Untold are concerned. I would be keen to hear what Untold’s resident doctor of psychology Dr Billy McGraw makes of Dr Debs condition, is he in a fit state of mental well being to continue practising as a doctor.

  21. @Untold regulars, thanks for all your well meaning differential diagnoses. Everyone wants to be a doctor nowadays. Back to the point of the article, I think it’s perfectly logical to expect articles on previous meeting(s) by two teams scheduled to face off in a competition, especially match(es) of importance such as a final.

  22. Possibly true, but how can you not mention in such an article the fact that one of the protagonist is the winning most team of said competition?

    It’s ridiculous.

    I mean, it would be like having a conversation about mythical earthly beings and not mentioning Trolls.

  23. In medical jurisprudence , we have terms that point out the reasons of misdiagnosing or mismanaging a condition.
    These are called an act of ommission or an act of commission . It means either the doctor may have ommited something , or may have over did it ,ie, an overkill.

    Just as the article ommited the fact that the Arsenal are indeed the outright FA Cup winners overall , yet they chose to go with an (under) achievement of a Leeds winning their only FA cup 50 years ago.

    Likewise , I hope we are also given the same leeway , when we point out factual , but not necessarely important revelations , like , say, the Spuds , have gone 60 years without winning the top division prize.

    I am hoping that those Spuds loving media bring this to clueless foorball fans , for their information . And for context , of course !

  24. Or for Man Utd fans , to educate them that their club went over 25 years from 1967 to them finally winning the EPL under SAF ?
    Much lesser time than Liverpool , admittedly , but then again , 30 years is an easier figure to remember !

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