The first round of the FA
Cup is the highest scoring in the competition proper because it brings together
more teams with disparate abilities than any other stage. The average number of
goals scored in first-round ties over the past 15 seasons was 3.0. The goals
per game figure goes down as the competition continues - to 2.8 in round two,
2.7 in rounds three and four, 2.5 in rounds five and six, 2.1 in the
semi-finals and 2.0 in the final.
The number of games producing more
than 2.5 goals - the most common betting line - also fell. The proportion of
first-round ties producing three or more goals was more than twice the
proportion of final ties doing so - 56% compared to 27%.
The single biggest influence on the number
of goals scored in a football match is the difference in ability between the
two teams. This is unsurprising: Manchester United's games generally yield more
goals when they are playing teams from near the bottom of the Premier League.
Those betting would do well to remember this trend in the FA Cup as the
first round produces more ties between teams from widely separated rungs on the
English football ladder than even the third round. The more lopsided a
first-round tie, the more goals are likely to be scored.
show that, when League One teams played League Two teams, the average number of
goals scored was 2.7. When League Two teams played non-league opponents, the
average number of goals scored was 2.9. And when League One teams played
non-league opponents, the average number of goals scored was 3.5. The highest
total was 13, when Shrewsbury beat Marine 11-2 in 1995.
In 64% of ties
pitching League One clubs against sides from what is now the Blue Square
Premier and below, more than 2.5 goals were scored. There are five such ties
this weekend, with the greatest difference between teams being between
Billericay of the Ryman Premier and Swansea of League One.