Arsenal have a chance to turn a decent season into a very good one by defending the FA Cup trophy, and no wonder they have been made favourites to win at Wembley. However, with Aston Villa making tremendous progress under Tim Sherwood, the Villans have plenty of reason for optimism ahead of Saturday’s clash.
Arsenal fans are growing increasingly frustrated by the club’s failure to challenge for the Premier League trophy, but last year’s FA Cup title was seen as a step in the right direction and the second successive triumph in the highly regarded competition could provide another major boost ahead of the next season. Seeing as the Gunners have been absolutely impressive since the Boxing Day triumph over QPR, they can only regret the slow start to the season, but another top 4 finish and automatic place in the Champions League group stages can be seen as a decent result. Arsenal did fail to win three successive Premier League fixtures ahead of the 4-1 victory over West Brom in the final day of the league season, but they, nonetheless, head into the FA Cup final in good spirits. The Gunners can be trusted to create a fair share of goalscoring opportunities against Aston Villa, but their back line could struggle to keep the likes of Benteke, Grealish and Agbonlahor at bay. Danny Welbeck has been ruled out of the game through a knee injury, but Mathieu Debuchy and Mikel Arteta has a chance of being involved. Wojciech Szczesny should continue his FA Cup run, while Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott are vying for the remaining place behind Olivier Giroud.
Even if not everyone thought that sacking Paul Lambert was the right way to go, chances are nobody is complaining any more after his successor Tim Sherwood helped Aston Villa turn the season around. The former Spurs manager not only led the Villans to Premier League safety, securing survival with two games to spare, but the club also made it to the FA Cup final under his guidance. The reality is that nobody will blame the players if they fail to add to club’s seven FA Cup titles, last of which was secured in 1957, but they do have a unique chance to get into those history books. Having the coveted trophy presented to them by Aston Villa fan Prince William could be another incentive for Tim Sherwood’s charges to give their best at Wembley, and they do have enough attacking potential to hurt the Gunners. With Christian Benteke scoring 12 goals in last 12 outings and the likes of Grealish and Agbonlahor providing support from the wings, I can definitely see Aston Villa scoring at least once on Saturday. The Villans should have veteran keeper Shay Given back from a groin problem, while Aly Cissokho, Kieran Richardson and Jores Okore are back in contention as well.
With both sides amongst the goals at the moment, chances are we will witness a thoroughly entertaining FA Cup final, with some end to end stuff. Predicting a winner does not seem too easy at the moment, but backing both teams to score could be a good decision.
Verdict: Both teams to score
Best odds: 19/20
Bookmaker: William Hill