Data visualization assesses the 2012 FA Cup Final

Football fans across the globe have been eagerly awaiting the weekends 2012 FA Cup Final.

The 131st final of the FA Cup – sponsored by Budweiser – will be contested by Chelsea and Liverpool, and kick off at the later time of 5:15pm (BST).

Wembley’s May 5 encounter, in conjunction with their scheduled Barclays Premier League clash at Anfield (rearranged for May 8), will mean the Reds and Blues have played each other four times this season. Liverpool knocked Chelsea out of the Carling Cup in November, and have won their past four encounters. Despite this recent record, most punters are putting Chelsea as narrow favorites. So, will the Merseysiders continue their recent winning form against the Blues? Or will the pundits be proved right?

Let’s find out by doing what we do best; analyzing some data.

Today’s data visualization and data analysis is brought to you by: Yellowfin; now making Business Intelligence even easier.

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Goals for and against Chelsea on route to the 2012 FA Cup Final

As Premier League teams, both Chelsea and Liverpool entered the FA Cup in the third round. Chelsea’s first game at home against Portsmouth began in lucklustre fashion, with a goalless first half. Chelsea stepped up a gear in the second, to produce a convincing 4 – 0 result, thanks to two Ramires goals in two minutes.

The Blues controversial fourth round win, playing away against Queens Park Rangers, came after a contentious penalty gifted Mata the match’s only goal.

A hard-fought fifth round 1 – 1 draw at home to Birmingham City led to a rematch. The replay went Chelsea’s way, after Birmingham dominated the first stanza, with Mata and Raul Meireless booking Chelsea’s ticket to the sixth round, each netting second half goals.

Chelsea then disposed of Leicester City 5 – 2 in a home game thriller to reach the semi-finals, where they made light work of local rivals Tottenham Hotspur, running out 5 – 1 winners.

Goals for and against Liverpool on route to the 2012 FA Cup Final

Liverpool won a lopsided opening round three match at home to Oldham Athletic. Despite Oldham opening the scoring in the 28th minute, courtesy of Robbie Simpson, Liverpool hit back just two minutes later with a Craig Bellamy equalizer, the match finishing in a 5 – 1 rout.

The Red’s fourth round encounter resulted in a 2 – 1 victory against Manchester United, following a Dirk Kuyt classic that sealed Liverpool’s ticket to the fifth round in the 88th minute.

Liverpool then powered past Brighton & Hove Albion at Anfield with an emphatic 6 – 1 thumping thanks to Martin Skrtel, Carroll, Gerrard, Suarez and two own goals.

The Merseysiders then overcame a gallant Stoke City – despite a first half Crouch equalizer – to secure a 2 – 1 victory and progress to the semis where they met local rivals Everton at Wembley Stadium. After a one all first half, Carroll sent the Red’s to their first FA Cup Final since their 2006 victory over West Ham United.

Comparison: Goals for and against Chelsea & Liverpool on route to the 2012 FA Cup Final

Chelsea have scored a total of 18 goals in the tournament compared to Liverpool’s 17. However, any significance derived from that lone extra goal is nullified by the fact that Chelsea was forced to replay Birmingham City after an initial one all draw.

Although, Chelsea has only conceded four goals in six matches, compared to Liverpool’s five in five. Furthermore, Liverpool has been scored against in all its matches, whereas Chelsea has held its opponent goalless in three of its six outings. And, does Chelsea’s 5 – 1 recent crushing of the Spurs at Wembley – Saturday’s venue – give it an edge?

Chelsea’s record in the FA Cup Final

Chelsea’s 2012 appearance in the FA Cup Final will be the club’s eleventh.

They have won six times (1970, 1997, 2000, 2007, 2009, 2010) and suffered the pains of defeat on four occasions (1915, 1967, 1994, 2002).

Liverpool’s record in the FA Cup Final

Liverpool will take part in its fourteenth FA Cup Final on May 5.

They have claimed the silverware on seven previous occasions (1965, 1974, 1986, 1989, 1992, 2001, 2006), and have been branded with the bittersweet runners-up tag six times (1914, 1950, 1971, 1977, 1988, 1996).

Comparison: Chelsea’s vs Liverpool’s record in the FA Cup Final

Liverpool has made it to the final game of the FA Cup three more times than Chelsea.  Will this experience count for anything on game day?

Or, does Chelsea’s recent success – 2007, 2009, 2010 – outweigh historical figures?

Chelsea vs Liverpool in the FA Cup

Saturday’s clash represents a first for both clubs, with Chelsea and Liverpool never having met in an FA Cup Final. The Blues and Reds have faced-off nine times in the FA Cup, including two semi-finals.

Chelsea holds a slight advantage, having won five of their previous nine FA Cup encounters.

Conversely, Liverpool emerged victorious in both of their semi final meetings, while Chelsea claimed a 3 – 2 triumph in the 2005 League Cup Final at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff – the only domestic final in which the two teams have met.

Conclusion: And the winner is…

It’s a tough call – a flip of a coin.

While Chelsea holds the slimmest of advantages in FA Cup clashes, the Reds’ recent form against the Blues has the Yellowfin team backing Liverpool for a narrow and nail biting 2-1 win.

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