FA Cup: Lincoln City boss Danny Cowley's rise in stats as Imps prepare for Arsenal

Media playback is not supported on this device

FA Cup: Lincoln's Cowley brothers aim to defy the odds
FA Cup quarter-final: Arsenal v Lincoln City
Date: Saturday, 11 March Kick-off: 17:30 GMT
Coverage: Commentary on BBC Radio 5 live and coverage on the BBC Sport website

Top of the league, an FA Cup quarter-final and a trip to Premier League giants Arsenal - not bad for your first season in full-time management.

Last season, Danny Cowley was a PE teacher and the part-time manager of Braintree Town.

This weekend, with his Lincoln City side sitting comfortably at the top of the National League, the 38-year-old continues a remarkable burgeoning managerial career by leading his team out in the last eight of the FA Cup against Arsene Wenger's 12-time winners Arsenal.

Alongside his brother and assistant manager Nicky, Cowley has overseen FA Cup victories over Championship clubs Ipswich Town and Brighton, as well as top-flight Burnley.

"Hard work. Relentless hard work," was the response from Cowley when asked about the recipe for his success.

But there's a bit more to it than that. BBC Sport has pulled out Cowley's stellar statistics and compared them with the biggest names in the game.

Premier League comparison

Cowley table

Under Cowley, Lincoln's league record in the National League has been remarkable this season, winning 22 of 34 games, losing six, and scoring 67 goals while conceding just 32.

His win percentage of 64.71%, while of course achieved in a different league played at a very different standard, stands up impressively against the elite of the Premier League, with only Antonio Conte having a better success rate this term.

And if you take into consideration Cowley's past two seasons - having taken part-timers Braintree to third in the National League and the play-offs, he trumps any Premier League boss to have managed in the top flight across the past two seasons.

Given their record over the past 19 months, it will come as no surprise that the Cowley brothers have accrued a standout points-per-game average - in fact their average of 1.9 points per game for the past two seasons is bettered by no Premier League manager.

And only Conte has a better points average this season, with 2.4 to the Cowleys' 2.10.

Championship? You're having a laugh

One for Lincoln City fans to savour.

With victories over Ipswich and Brighton in the FA Cup, the Imps have beaten more Championship clubs in 2017 than actual Championship teams Rotherham and Bristol City.

And they've beaten the same number of Championship clubs in 2017 as have Championship teams Ipswich, Wolves and Birmingham City.

If Lincoln had picked up points in their FA Cup draw with Ipswich and subsequent wins over Town and Brighton, they would have three more points than Rotherham have picked up in their 12 games in 2017.

Just the 103 years in the making

Woolwich Arsenal
The Arsenal team for the 1914-15 season - still officially registered as Woolwich Arsenal Football & Athletic Club

By reaching the quarter-finals, Cowley and his side became the first non-leaguers to go into the last eight since QPR in 1914 - a year before Woolwich Arsenal filed the paperwork to change their name to plain Arsenal.

In that time, the Gunners have won 13 top-flight league titles, 12 FA Cups, two League Cups and a European Cup Winners' Cup.

In short - Lincoln's achievement is a once-in-a-lifetime event.

Media playback is not supported on this device

Lincoln City: How the non-leaguers reached the FA Cup quarter-finals

Over the same period, Lincoln have won the old Division Three North three times, League Two once and the National League once - as well as 38 Lincolnshire Senior Cup titles.

Lincoln haven't done it the easy way

Lincoln have been throwing around cup upsets like confetti this season - and none were as impressive as beating top-flight Burnley in the fifth round.

The Clarets were a mammoth 81 places higher than the National League leaders at the time of the match.

Ipswich, Lincoln's third-round victims, were 59 places higher and Brighton, the highly fancied Championship promotion chasers, were 71 places higher when they were vanquished in the fourth round.

Lincoln, the 93rd-ranked team in English football, have knocked out teams with an average position of 23rd on the ladder since the third round - 70 spots above their current standing.

Of the remaining quarter-finalists, only Manchester City (average position of opponents 18th) and Millwall (13th) have had tougher runs from the third round in terms of how high their opponents are ranked.

Average position of opponents since third round
Millwall - 13thChelsea - 42nd
Man City - 18thSpurs - 44th
Lincoln - 23rdArsenal - 47th
Man Utd - 36thMiddlesbrough - 56th

Clinical finishing is key

In their FA Cup wins over Ipswich, Brighton and Burnley, Lincoln have scored five goals from only eight shots on target.

That's a 62.5% conversion of shots on target.

Compare that with this weekend's opponents Arsenal, who have put nine goals past their last three FA Cup opponents, but from 19 attempts on target.

That's a 47.4% conversion percentage.

Put simply, Lincoln have been converting almost two of every three shots on goal, whereas Arsenal have been putting away just under half of their on-target efforts.

Could that give Cowley's men hope on Saturday?

Show us your medals

Manager graphic
Cowley's trophy haul is double that of Wenger's in recent times - even if the quality of silverware is rather less impressive

Wenger's trophy haul in the past five years consists of two FA Cups (2014 and 2015).

Danny Cowley has collected four pieces of silverware in that time - although they are the slightly less illustrious Ryman Premier play-offs (2013), the Ryman League Cup (2013) and the Essex Senior Cup (2014 & 2015), all with Concord Rangers.

Why has Danny Cowley been so effective?

Analysis, BBC Lincolnshire's Rob Makepeace

Danny Cowley and his brother Nicky are a breath of fresh air when it comes to football management. Approachable, open and honest are qualities you don't always see in managers - but these two have it in abundance.

Their attention to detail is obsessive. Whether it's Arsenal or Altrincham, the pair watch as many games as is physically possible in the time allowed and then share their knowledge with the squad in a video analysis session the day before the game.

It's exactly the same when it comes to signing a player - they'll look at every detail not just of his skills on the pitch but his personality off it.

They believe a team is a team. No one player is better than any other and whether it's a win or a loss, they all hold their hands up together and take the blame or the praise.

Top Stories