FA Cup holders Wigan Athletic aim to claim another major scalp and get closer to defending the coveted trophy, but they still face an uphill task against Premier League giants Arsenal. The Gunners will be under pressure following some disappointing results in the league, but they are aware this is their best chance of lifting a trophy this season.
Wigan produced quite a coup by winning the FA Cup title last term as they defeated Manchester City in the final at Wembley, but nobody believed the Latics could do it all over again, especially having been relegated to the second division. However, the team underwent a real resurgence under Uwe Rosler, with stunning victories over Premier League sides Crystal Palace, Cardiff City and Manchester City seeing them earn a chance to battle Arsenal for a place in the final. After winning nine of ten games in the space of month and a half, the Latics have suffered a dip in form, winning just one of last five matches, but current form is unlikely to play a part in such an important game. The good news is Uwe Rosler has managed to rest some key men in the midweek clash against Milwall and despite losing that game, Wigan’s play-off berth in the Championship did not come into question. The likes of Jordi Gomez, Nick Powell, Callum McManaman and James Perch are set to be recalled, but Ben Watson, Chris McCann, Roger Espinosa, Rob Kiernan and Martyn Waghorn are all unavailable.
This is make or break time for Arsenal as the Gunners hope to end a nine-year wait for a major trophy, but while they are clearly hot favourites to defeat holders Wigan Athletic, Arsene Wenger’s charges will have to overcome a host of problems in order to qualify for the final. Heavy defeats to Premier League rivals Chelsea and Everton acted as a serious blow to the players’ confidence, with the prospect of missing out on the Champions League qualification likely to put extra pressure on the Emirates outfit. Arsenal can, however, draw confidence from their impressive FA Cup run that saw them defeat sides like Tottenham, Liverpool and Everton, with the return of Aaron Ramsey likely to provide additional boost. It’s not all good news on the injury front for Wenger as Mesut Ozil and Laurent Koscielny are not yet ready to return and Kieran Gibbs, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Tomas Rosicky are all rated doubtful. Meanwhile, Mathieu Flamini misses out through suspension and Lukasz Fabianski is expected to start having featured in every FA Cup game this season.
Wigan Athletic did really well to come this far, but despite defeating Manchester City on the road in the process, I doubt they can claim another major scalp. Arsenal do have plenty of problems at the moment, but their sheer quality should prove the difference between the two sides at Wembley.
Verdict: Away win Arsenal (2)
Best Odds: 4/9
Bookmaker: William Hill