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Arsenal v Aston Villa: Sherwood out to upset holders

Tim Sherwood believes all the pressure will be on Arsenal when he leads his Aston Villa side out at Wembley in the FA Cup final.

Arsenal lifted the trophy last season with a 3-2 win over Hull City after extra time, and will start Saturday’s game as favourites having finished third in the Premier League.

Villa, by contrast, finished one place above the relegation zone, with Sherwood’s appointment in February proving crucial to the club securing survival.

A rejuventated Villa upset the odds by beating Liverpool 2-1 in their semi-final last month, and the former Tottenham boss sees no reason why they cannot repeat the feat this weekend.

“To be part of an FA Cup final is a fantastic achievement for this football club. I’m very proud,” said Sherwood.

“The pressure is on Arsenal. It’s a one-off game and form goes out the window. They’ve been there and done it before. We’re not going there to make up the numbers.

“The boys performed in the semi-final. I hope we can do the same. I know what the boys are capable of in one-off games. On big occasions they’ve produced the goods and we need to do it one more time.

“I believe we’re going to get a performance like we put in against Liverpool. We intend to take the game to them.

“The boys know they can make history. Someone can be a hero in there. It’s an opportunity for everyone to write the history books again.”

Villa have gone 58 years without lifting the FA Cup, while their most recent final appearance in 2000 – the last final at the old Wembley – ended in a 1-0 defeat to Chelsea.

Arsenal, meanwhile, are bidding to become the most successful side in the competition’s history, with their 11 victories to date matched only by Manchester United.

Manager Arsene Wenger has overseen five of those triumphs, and the Frenchman gave little away when discussing his likely team selection for Saturday’s meeting.

“It is important to focus as a whole squad on winning the trophy,” said Wenger. “Most of the time the heroes are the people who come on in an FA Cup final – they make the difference.

“That’s why it is important as a reward for the whole team who have fought very hard the whole season to get there. Let’s deal with it as a whole squad.

“I have some big selection decisions to make on Saturday. Even to leave some top internationals out of the squad shows that we have a very big squad.

“What is important is that we do not make too many individual cases before the cup final. It’s the whole team who can win it.

“I don’t know who will start yet and it’s not important because it’s just on the day in the FA Cup final. What is important is that you bring the trophy back. It’s always a concern for the whole squad.”

Wenger will be without striker Danny Welbeck, who is suffering with a knee injury, although Mathieu Debuchy (hamstring) and Mikel Arteta (ankle) are in contention.

For Villa, Shay Given and Kieran Richardson are back in training after respective groin and calf problems while Jores Okore (knee) and Libor Kozak (back) are doubtful.

Thu 28 May, 2015
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