Heralded as the oldest competition in English football (or soccer, in the U.S.), the Football Association’s Challenge Cup kicked off for the first time in 1871. For almost 150 years, this competition has taken place over 12 rounds, pitting the non-league teams against the Premier League elites, for eternal glory.
Here’s your primer on the sides that have won the competition most often, the teams that have scored the most goals, and the individual stars to watch this year. Read on to learn more about the magic competition that is the FA Cup.
Clubs in the Premier League, England’s top-flight football league, don’t like to share. However, when it comes to the amount of FA Cup trophies sitting in their cabinets, Arsenal and Manchester United do just that. Each team has won the FA Cup 12 times. Manchester United won their first FA Cup in 1908-09, beating Bristol City 1-0 in the final. Their most recent victory came last year, when United dispatched Crystal Palace, 2-1.
Arsenal made their first finals appearance in the 1926-27 season, but this wouldn’t be their first victory. After losing 1-0 in the finals to Cardiff City, the Gunners would ultimately hoist their first FA Cup trophy in 1929-30, besting Huddersfield Town 2-0. Arsenal have also won two of the last three honors, in 2013-14 by overcoming Hull City 3-2 and in 2014-15 by smashing Aston Villa 4-0.
Some of the other large Premier League teams – Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham – can’t claim similar success in the FA Cup. The Blues and Reds have each won the competition seven times, while the Spurs have felt the embrace of victory eight times.
Even though they were relegated out of the Premier League last season, Aston Villa can boast about being the top scoring club in FA Cup history as they compete in the second-tier of English football, the Championship. Over 840 goals have been netted by scorers wearing the Claret and Blue. This ability to find the back of the net, however, has not led them to a record number of trophies. Aston Villa claimed only seven trophies throughout their participation in the tournament over the years.
Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur own the second- and third-place records for most goals scored, both over 780. In FA Cup Finals however, Manchester leads the pack with 33 goals scored. Premier League rivals Arsenal and Tottenham follow up with 25 and 21 goals respectively. EFL League One side Millwall F.C. will look to be a thorn in the side of the Spurs as they travel to White Hart Lane in search of an upset. Meanwhile, Manchester United returns to Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge for a second time this season, hoping to extract revenge for being beaten 4-0 in the Premier League fixture.
In the 2016-17 FA Cup, the tournament’s leading scorer played for a side that went out in the second round. Adam Morgan, a former Liverpool youth player, scored six goals across three games for Curzon Ashton. This included a hat trick against AFC Wimbledon in a game Morgan’s team lost, 4-3. He scored over 85 percent of the goals for his team, which may be one of the reasons they didn’t advance further in the competition.
Two Premier League stars, Arsenal’s Theo Walcott and Chelsea’s Pedro, have each contributed four goals for their squads. They are the highest scorers from the top-flight of English football so far. Not far behind these two are those with three goals: Sergio Aguero, Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, and Son Heung-min. Each of these players are still helping to push their team toward the semifinals and finals, and perhaps the chance to claim personal accolades, too.
Magic of the Cup
Giving lower league sides the opportunity to spoil the day of football powerhouses, the FA Cup brings a level of excitement and unpredictability to these matches, making it a joy to watch. Who will host the trophy this year? While there are plenty of big name clubs still in the competition – Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United – there are also smaller sides – Lincoln City, Millwall – who could pull off an upset.
Whether you’re rooting for Davids or Goliaths, make sure you’re wearing your team’s colors on match day by heading to Fanatics.com.