There are two very different agendas and aims for the two teams competing in the 2016 FA Cup Final. For Manchester United it is presents the last chance for a much maligned manager to find some small success after a poor season, and for Crystal Palace fans it is the perfect dream – with success just one game away. So what does the form guide tell us is likely to happen?
It’s not easy making predictions in football – and especially the finals of major tournaments – but the recent form of both teams does give us some indications as to how this game might pan out.
United enjoyed better form at the tail-end of the Premier League season, with four wins in their last six games and only one loss. In comparison Palace had an inconsistent end to the season, with three losses and two draws in the last six games as they finished in the bottom half of the table.
One of the most worrying stats from those games for Eagles fans was that they also conceded 35 goals – and only scored 16 – over the last 20 games. And it’s that poor sequence of results that has now left Palace as outsiders going into the final.
By all attacking and defensive measures United are looking the stronger side going into tomorrow’s game. They’ve won twice as many matches in the last ten games and lost half as many, scored more goals per game and also been more efficient in front of goal – despite Palace having more shots on goal.
Acting as a tight defensive unit has been one of the hallmarks of Louis Van Gaal’s United side, so it’s perhaps no surprise that their defence has been stingy. But some have equated the team’s defensive nature with an absence of attacking flair. The stats do reflect this, with an average of only seven shots per game in their last ten matches.
Overall KickOff’s algorithm is predicting a win for United (57% probability), with a likely 1-0 score line (15%). There is also a strong likelihood of two or fewer goals being scored during the game (59%) and that both teams will not score (58%).
Putting statistics to one side for a minute though, as mentioned this is a Cup Final – and as such anything could happen. It’s worth taking into account that many international players in both teams will now have one eye on Euro 2016.
But to the victors go the spoils. And for the team that does take the game by the scruff of its neck a grind out a result, the greatest domestic cup in the world is still a brilliant reward.