There was a new layout for the 1926–27 FA Cup. 552 teams entered the Cup. 462 of these had to participate in the qualifying rounds, where 25 survived to reach the First Round Proper. These 25 teams were joined by 40 clubs from the Third Division, two Second Division sides, eight non-league sides and amateur team Northern Nomads to form 76 teams, or 38 ties, in the First Round. These teams were whittled down to 19 after the Second Round. Here, they were joined by 42 of the 44 First and Second Division clubs, plus two Third Division sides and amateur side Corinthian, who had been given byes. This made the 64 teams that were necessary in the Third Round of the Tournament. From there on, the total number of teams were 32 (Fourth Round), 16 (Fifth Round), 8 (Sixth Round), 4 (Semi-final), and then 2 (Final).
Cardiff City, defeated finalists just two years earlier, started their campaign at home to Aston Villa. After a 2–1 win, they continued northwards to play Darlington. Following a 2–0 away win, they faced their sternest test yet, an away game to last year's championsBolton. Following a shock 2–0 away win, Cardiff were pitted away again against Chelsea. After a drab 0–0 at Stamford Bridge, Cardiff won the replay 3–2 at home. In the semi-finals Cardiff were drawn against Reading at Molineux Stadium. However, Reading were superbly edged out 3–0.
Arsenal started their tournament away to the 1925 champions, Sheffield United. Following a 3–2 victory, Arsenal faced an away match against Port Vale, who had won 5–1 in the previous round. After a 2–2 draw, Arsenal managed to win the replay 1–0. From here on, Arsenal did not have to leave London at all in the competition. A home tie against Liverpool was resoundingly won 2–0, and in the Sixth Round the Gunners brushed Wolves aside 2–1. The Semi-final was against Southampton, who had also fallen at the Semi Finals in 1925. The game was played at Stamford Bridge and Arsenal won 2–1, with goals from Hulme and Buchan, with Southampton's reply coming from Rawlings. Southampton were also denied two penalty appeals for fouls by Horace Cope.
The final is remembered as the time that "The Cup was let out of England". 1927 is the first and so far only time the FA Cup has not been won by an English club. Arsenal were by far and away the favourites for the tournament. Arsenal, who had just been taken over by the famous Herbert Chapman, were expected to keep the cup in England and win by some margin.
The Cardiff goal remains one of the most famous FA Cup Final goals ever. The move started with a throw-in. Cardiff's Hughie Ferguson received the ball and had little space to run or make a pass, thus instead he attempted a pot-shot at goal. The ball ran low across the ground, but Arsenal goalkeeper Dan Lewis had the shot well covered. He knelt down and attempted to gather the ball. However, as he did so, the ball squirmed out of Lewis' hands and slipped in between the crook of his left elbow and body. With a couple of Cardiff City forwards closing in, Lewis desperately tried to reclaim the ball but only succeeded in knocking it into the net with his elbow. Lewis later blamed the error on his jersey, which being brand new was greasy and made it difficult to grip the ball.
Cardiff's Ernie Curtis, who died in November 1992 at the age of 85, was the last surviving player from the final.