The FA Cup is famous for putting minnows against some of the biggest names in English football, creating some true David versus Goliath ties. As much as fans love to see a chance of a giant-killing though, clashes involving two top teams also capture many of the headlines. Arsenal versus Liverpool, two historically successful teams, is always a fixture that catches the eye whenever the pair meet in the FA Cup.
This is something that has happened 17 times previously, meaning their FA Cup 3rd round tie in January 2024 will be their 18th meeting in the competition. Neither side would have wanted such a tough fixture so early on in the knockout tournament but winning the game will feel particularly sweet for the victor. Not only do they get bragging rights over a league rival but it also means there is one less contender in the competition!
Ahead of their upcoming clash, we thought it would be interesting to see how these two teams have fared against each other throughout FA Cup history. Although past results will count for little on the day, these two titans of English football have a fascinating history in this historic cup competition.
Arsenal (1886) and Liverpool (1892) were founded within a few years of one another but it took them a little while to meet in the FA Cup. Although regular league foes by that point, the two faced off for the first time in the FA Cup in 1913. The winners that day at Arsenal’s south London ground, or rather Woolwich Arsenal as they were known then, were Liverpool courtesy of a 4-1 scoreline.
It was not an unexpected result as Arsenal were struggling in Division One at the time. The Gunners ended up finishing the season bottom after recording just three wins. Liverpool’s reward for beating Arsenal was a third-round tie versus Newcastle, which originally finished 1-1. They proceeded to lose the replay 1-0, however, putting a swift end to that year’s cup run.
Last Time Out
Arsenal and Liverpool are very familiar foes who have met in a variety of competitions over the years. The last time the two met in the FA Cup though was 2014 for a fifth-round clash at the Emirates Stadium. The Gunners got themselves into a 2-0 lead and although a Steven Gerrard penalty halved the deficit, the visiting side could not find another. It was a busy game for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who later moved to Liverpool, as he scored a goal, set up another and arguably should have conceded a penalty.
Arsenal hold the edge in this fixture when looking solely at their FA Cup meetings. From their 17 clashes so far, they have won eight of them with another four having ended all square. Although the Gunners are often listed first when looking at previous results, they have not always been playing on their own turf. In reality, the Gunners have hosted Liverpool on seven occasions in the FA Cup as many of the clashes have taken place on a neutral ground.
Although Arsenal lead the way in the FA Cup head-to-head standings, they do not when looking at all competitions when these two teams have met. At the time of writing, Liverpool had won 94 encounters versus Arsenal’s 82.
As for their overall record in the FA Cup, Liverpool face quite the battle to get on Arsenal’s level. No club has won the competition more times than the north London outfit. Liverpool’s tally of eight does make them the third-most successful club in the cup’s history mind you, so it is hardly a competition they have struggled in.
|FA Cup Wins
Meetings in Finals
Although there is no possibility of Arsenal and Liverpool meeting in the final of the 2023/24 FA Cup, the two do have history of clashing at this late stage.
1950 – Arsenal 2-0 Liverpool
The first time Arsenal and Liverpool met for the FA Cup grand finale was during the 1949/50 season at the original Wembley Stadium. Liverpool, who were aiming for their first-ever win in the competition, ended up defeated following two goals from Arsenal’s Reg Lewis. Following the defeat, questions were asked why Liverpool boss George Kay dropped Bill Paisley who scored the winning goal against Everton in the semi-final. Fortunately for Liverpool fans, they would get to see plenty more of Paisley when he moved into management.
1971 – Arsenal 2-1 (AET) Liverpool
Arsenal were made to work a little harder when the two clubs met again for the 1971 FA Cup final. Once again, it was a match played in front of around 100,000 at Wembley and the crowd were treated to some thrilling late actions. No goals were scored in the opening 90 minutes but just two minutes of extra time were needed before Liverpool broke the deadlock through Steve Heighway. The Gunners quickly fired back through George Graham (disputed, see below) in the 101st minute while another George, this time Charlie George, scored the winner 10 minutes later.
Arsenal’s equaliser is sometimes attributed to Eddie Kelly who in the eyes of many, is the first substitute to score a goal in an FA Cup final. Should anyone tell you this though, you should point out that George Graham got the final touch on the ball. Although it is not terribly clear from the main camera, another side-on view quite clearly shows that the goal should not be credited to Kelly.
2001 – Liverpool 2-1 Arsenal
History did not repeat itself when these two teams met for their third FA Cup final clash. Perhaps the change of venue helped as this was the first edition of the cup final not to take place at the recently closed original Wembley. Instead, the action took place at Cardiff’s Millenium Stadium in front of 72,500 fans. Incidentally, it was also the first FA Cup final contested between two non-British managers (Arsene Wenger and Gerard Houllier).
Arsenal were only a matter of minutes from winning the game through Freddie Ljungberg’s 72nd-minute strike but up stepped a young Michael Owen who had other ideas. A five-minute brace turned the game on its head and earned Liverpool their second title of what would be their unique treble-winning season.
A Long Battle
These sides have played out some fantastic FA Cup matches, including the finals above, but their incredibly tight battle in the 1979/80 FA Cup semi-final is also worthy of special mention. Following an initial 0-0 draw after extra time, the two clubs faced each other again four days later, this time to play out a 1-1 draw. The same scoreline awaited them for the second replay at Villa Park as Kenny Dalglish managed to snatch an equaliser in the dying moments.
This meant the teams needed a third replay to decide who would end up in the final against West Ham. It was another low-scoring affair, but it did not end up as a draw, which must have been something of a relief for both teams. Brain Talbot scored the only goal of the match, bringing an eventual winner to 450 minutes of football (3 x 120 minutes, 1 x 90 minutes).