Wembley Stadium, London
May 17, 2014; 17:00 BST
The big final is here and with it the chance for Arsenal FC and Hull City to attain glory. The Gunners will head into this game as the favourites as they look to end their longstanding trophy drought, but they will have to guard against complacency against a Hull City side who have performed well in this tournament so far. Arsene Wenger’s men will not be keen to repeat the mistake they made against Birmingham City a few seasons back.
Arsenal finished the season fourth in the league table and will now look to crown this season with a FA Cup win. They have been fantastic in this tournament so far and have defeated the likes of Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and Everton on their way to the final. They defeated Wigan Athletic in penalties in the semi-final with Lukasz Fabianski making some important saves. The Gunners are coming into this match on the back of a six-match winning streak and have the momentum behind them heading into this fixture.
Hull City on the other hand survived relegation and finished 16th in the league. But their recent form has been a cause for concern for Steve Bruce as he has seen his side lose four of their last five matches. In fact their last win came in the semi-final clash against Sheffield United in this competition, in one of the most exciting matches of the tournament this season.
Team News and Tactics
Arsene Wenger doesn’t have any new injury concerns ahead of this game; in fact the dreaded injury list has been reduced considerably in the past few weeks. Ryo Miyaichi, Theo Walcott and Serge Gnabry continue their spell at the side-lines, but the likes of Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere have all regained full fitness ahead of the big final at Wembley. There is still uncertainty regarding the fitness of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Thomas Vermaelen though.
Oxlade-Chamberlain has been struggling with his groin since the 0-3 win over Hull City last month, and he will undergo a late fitness test ahead of this game to confirm his availability. Vermaelen, whose last appearance was in the penultimate league match against West Bromwich Albion, had stitches on his knees and, like Oxlade-Chamberlain, he will undergo late fitness test as well. Wenger confirmed that the rest of the squad, which faced Norwich City in their last match, will be available.
“Everybody should be available who played in our last game at Norwich. There’s still some uncertainty about Oxlade-Chamberlain (groin) and Vermaelen who was out at the last minute with stitches in his knee. We’ll know more about that tomorrow or Friday,” the Arsenal manager said in the pre-match press conference.
Wenger is expected to make only two changes to the side that started against Norwich City in their last league game. Santi Cazorla will replace Tomas Rosicky in attack, while Per Mertesacker will resume his partnership with Laurent Koscielny in the center of the defence as Carl Jenkinson drops back to the bench, and Bacary Sagna starts as the right back. Lukasz Fabianski will start in goal once again as he has done so far in this tournament.
Expected starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Fabianski (GK); Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs; Arteta, Ramsey; Cazorla, Ozil, Podolski; Giroud
Manager Steve Bruce does face some selection headaches ahead of this game as a few of his key players struggle with their fitness. Strikers Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long are cup-tied and will be ineligible to participate in the final. Paul McShane, James Chester, Robbie Brady and Sone Aluko have faced problem with injuries and will face late fitness tests ahead of this game. All these players are expected to pass that test, although none are expected to be part of the starting eleven in this game.
“Thankfully everybody came through the Everton game okay.
“We’ve got everybody available who we think should be available. The only real doubt we’ve got at the moment is James Chester who is doing his utmost to be fit. He was back on the training ground on Tuesday doing some sort of work, but not with the main group.
“Matty Fryatt didn’t train on Tuesday after picking up a knock on Monday, but we don’t expect that to be anything worrying, we just aired with caution. He’ll be fine.” – The Hull City manager said in his pre-match press conference.
Goalkeeper Allan McGregor will expected to start in goal after recovering from his kidney injury and making his comeback against Everton.
After fielding a 3-5-2 formation against Everton in their last league match, Steve Bruce is expected to switch to 4-5-1 formation against Arsenal as he looks to put more bodies in the midfield to deal with Arsenal’s threat. Hull City are expected to make five changes to the starting line-up that was used against Everton.
Liam Rosenior will replace Paul McShane in the defence and will start as the right back with Maynor Figueroa starting as the left back. David Meyler will replace Stephen Quinn in the center of the park, while George Boyd starts on the left wing. Yannick Sagbo will lead the line in attack in absence of Long and Jelavic.
Expected starting line-up (4-5-1): McGregor (GK); Rosenior, Bruce, Davies, Figueroa; Elmohamady, Meyler, Huddlestone, Livermore, Boyd; Sagbo
- Arsenal have won two of their previous five FA Cup meetings with Hull City (D2 L1). However other than their meeting in 2009, they have not met in the competition since 1930.
- Hull have scored just once in their last four clashes with Arsenal in all competitions.
- This will be Hull City’s first appearance in an FA Cup final; they become the 57th different side to play in the final of this competition.
- Arsene Wenger has reached his 10th final as Arsenal manager and his sixth FA Cup final.
- Arsenal have kept clean sheets in each of their last three FA Cup finals.
Player to Watch Out For
Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal)
The 23-year-old has shown Arsenal fans what their team have been missing since he got injured in December. Aaron Ramsey has been in wonderful form recently, and his chemistry with Santi Cazorla and Mesut Ozil has added a different dimension to the attack. His late runs into the box and willingness to run past the front man have provided the Cazorla and Ozil with lot of options, which they were lacking earlier, and has helped in stretching the defence. Only had he been fit, Arsenal could have still been in the title race this season. He could once again be the difference between the two sides in at Wembley.
Arsenal 2-1 Hull City
On paper, Arsenal should win this comfortably, but it is hard to predict an outcome in a cup final. Hull City won’t be pushovers and will give the Gunners a run for their money. But one can expect Arsene Wenger’s men to win the game in the end due to their superior quality and also the desire to end this long trophy drought.