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Less scoring likely as top talents clash at Wembley.

ONE of the ways in which FA Cup finals have differed from Premier League games is that they have yielded fewer goals.

There are two reasons for this. First, the FA Cup final is nearly always more important than any one Premier League game. Scores tend to come down as the importance of an occasion goes up.

And second, the FA Cup final often features two of the better teams in the Premier League. The smaller the difference in ability between teams, generally speaking, the fewer goals there will be.

In the 25 FA Cup finals between 1993 and 2017 the average number of goals (excluding extratime and penalty shootouts) was 2.1.

In Premier League games during the 25 seasons from 1992-93 to 2016-17 the average number of goals was 2.6.

There were about 20 per cent fewer goals per game in FA Cup finals than in Premier League games.

If you looked at other periods you would see the same thing. The Premier League replaced the First Division of the Football League, which started in season 1888-89. Over the whole period from 1888-89 to 2016-17 goals per game were about 20 per cent lower in FA Cup finals than in the First Division or Premier League.

The market recognises that there are likely to be fewer goals when Chelsea play Manchester United in the FA Cup final than if they were meeting in the Premier League. Not certainly, but probably. I think it has got that call right and others too.

United finished second in the Premier League with 81 points, three places and 11 points above Chelsea. But United may have got better results than they deserved and Chelsea worse. There is probably not much difference in ability between them.

My spread betting expectations would be supremacy of 0.1 United/Chelsea with total goals of 2.25. These imply a 61 per cent chance of fewer than 2.5 goals.

They also imply a 36 per cent chance of a United win, a 31 per cent chance of extra-time and a 33 per cent chance of a Chelsea win.

The chance of lifting the trophy, if necessary after extra-time or penalties, would be 52 per cent for United and 48 per cent for Chelsea.

Unfortunately the market broadly agrees.

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Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:May 19, 2018
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