A cup for the underdogs?
There is often talk about the “Magic of the FA Cup” and how the competition brings up surprising results, with lower league teams beating higher placed ones. Indeed, the FA Cup has been won 10 times by teams outside the top division, most recently in 1980 with West Ham United’s victory over Arsenal. Despite being a Premier League mainstay for several years and Premier League champions in 2015-16, Leicester City went into the 2021 FA Cup final as slight underdogs to Chelsea. The underdogs nevertheless triumphed 1-0 in the big game, marking the Foxes' first FA Cup victory.
The rise of Chelsea FC
The 2018 edition of the FA Cup was won by Chelsea, who beat Manchester City 1-0 in the final. This title marked Chelsea’s eighth success in the competition, drawing them level with Tottenham Hotspur on the overall number of titles. Six of Chelsea’s eight titles have come since the turn of the millennium, which can partly be attributed to the takeover of the club by Roman Abramovich in 2003. The billionaire owner has injected significant amounts of cash into the club, meaning that the club’s brand value has increased from 314 million U.S. dollars in 2011 to over one billion U.S. dollars in 2019. This made Chelsea the fourth most valuable brand in the Premier League, just behind the two Manchester clubs and Liverpool. With this money comes the ability to attract superstars to the club and, in the 2021/22 season, the annual first-team player salary at Chelsea stood at around 5.31 million pounds.