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FA Cup - AVFC v MUFC Statistical anomoly ?


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Many Villa fans could have told you who we would draw in the 3rd round of the cup before the balls were ever drawn.

It's something of a (very unfunny) running joke amongst Villa fans that we always seem to get Manchester United in the 3rd round of the F.A. cup.

Now OK, we don't always get them, but when you consider that there are 62 other teams in the draw that we could get, you might think the chances of getting them more than twice a decade would be considered a little unlucky. Ironic when there are teams like Havant & Waterlooville who would probably give their left nut to be drawn against the mighty ManUre (not to mention us giving our left nut to be drawn against Havant & Waterlooville).

But if you consider that Villa have drawn Manchester United not twice, not three times, not four times but FIVE times in the last NINE years then you really really have to start wondering what on earth we've done to deserve such a rough draw. The 1 saving grace amongst those 5 draws was the year we drew United and they had decided to participate in the much-maligned (but at the time inaugural) World Club Championships and we ended up getting Darlington as a stand-in. Had United stayed in the country we'd have got them.

So, each year the chances of drawing Man Utd are 1 chance in 63, or 62 to 1 (i.e.62 chances we wont draw them, compared to 1 chance that we will), making it a 1.59% chance each year. If you work out the odds of us getting the same team 5 times in 9 years the odds are infinitesimal - way way way lower than 1%, and yet we have a 56% 'success' rate at it. How the hell does that figure? I don't know. The luck of the draw ? Gee, thanks.

Here is our progress through the F.A. Cup in the last 9 years. If there is a distinct lack of teams listed, then you can perhaps now appreciate why.

2008 Man Utd (h)

2007 Man Utd (a)

2006 Hull, Port Vale, Man City

2005 Sheff U

2004 Man Utd (h)

2003 Blackburn

2002 Man Utd (h)

2001 Newcastle, Leicester

2000 Darlington (would have been Man Utd (h)), Southampton, Leeds, Everton, Bolton, Chelsea

If you compare that to our progress in the league cup you will see a distinct lack of the name 'Man Utd' although we did draw them in 2000 and knocked them out 3-0.

2007 Scunthorpe, Leicester, Chelsea

2006 Wycombe, Burnley, Doncaster

2005 QPR, Burnley

2004 Wycombe, Leicester, Palace, Chelsea, Bolton

2003 Luton, Oxford, Preston, Liverpool

2002 Reading, Sheff Wed

2001 Man City

2000 Chester, Man Ure, Southampton, WHU, Leicester

I will watch on with a certain sense of inevitability that, once again, United will be taking the F.A. Cup seriously and we will be dumped to the side with the kind of ease that only Man United can do to us. No other team, no matter how good they are, have the kind of record, or put in the kind of performances, that United put in against us. They have an indian sign over us in a way that Chelsea would love. There is hope though. We are a good team now, we are beating teams regularly and even the likes of Arsenal and Liverpool are now coming to Villa Park and escaping with lucky points.

We haven't quite stemmed the tide yet but as Chelsea will vouch for, the gap is closing. Now, if we could finally put the United hoodoo to bed this time around then we really will have made great progress.

But, if any of the footballing Gods are reading this, could you do us a favour next season and leave our tie against United until the final ? That'd be super, thanks.

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