It's easy to concoct plausible reasons for teams on a cup run to neglect their league form
However appealing these anecdotes appear, they present scant evidence. Wigan
It's easy to concoct plausible reasons for teams on a cup run to neglect their league form. Squad rotation in the league to protect important players from injury can easily be countered by an imagined eagerness of their replacements to impress enough to force their way into the side on merit.
eliminated early in the FA Cup benefit in the League?
It's perhaps more sensible to see if a top side that's eliminated in the third round benefits from a couple of guaranteed free weekends when the early rounds of the competition are taking place.
It's understandable to wish to credit an apparent drop in performance to a single, neat cause. And it is true that both Arsenal and Hull won fewer points per game than previously, once the FA Cup competition kicked off in January. But the twenty or so games each side had played prior to round three is still a small sample size.
A side can appear to show improved levels of performance, when it 's simply due to random bouts of good fortune boosting their point total above their expected averages, but these levels aren’t sustainable.
Failure to accept that the data is often very noisy can result in conclusions that fail to repeat in out of sample trials
Arsenal last won the Premier League in 2003/04 and in the intervening seasons between then and their FA Cup win in 2013/14 their most common finishing position had been fourth. Exactly where they finished when they lifted the Cup.
Hull, in their previous Premier League
It's easy to
What does the data suggest?
If we take a more random approach, we’ve used the return of the FA Cup final to the new Wembley and looked at how the two finalists performed in Premier League games, post the 3rd round compared to the implied win and draw probabilities from Pinnacle's quoted odds. The data highlights that finalists were expected to win 1.65 points per game from early January onwards, but won just 1.58.
However, using simulations there is a 1 in 5 chance that the quoted odds were broadly correct and the teams as a group were slightly unfortunate.
So, an underperformance against the odds shouldn’t be taken as proof that a long run of FA Cup games impairs results
So, an underperformance against the odds shouldn’t be taken as proof that a long run of FA Cup games impairs results. Firstly, there could be other factors involved from injuries, a poor January transfer window, European involvement and simply more randomness.
And even if the effect is genuine, there is the practical difficulty from a betting viewpoint, because you need to be able to predict the finalists at an early stage to profit from a poorer than expected spring campaign.
Soccer bettors are advised not to bet against a team in the league based on a long run in the FA Cup, and are recommended to read this article, which explains how bettors can fall victim to anecdotes from pundits such as "the FA Cup has harmed their league form."