FA Cup Preview: Arsenal v Hull City
By Football News
Arsenal have the opportunity to end nine years of hurt when they face Hull City in Saturday's FA Cup final at Wembley.
Arsene Wenger will need no reminding that his side have not lifted any silverware since winning the competition in 2005, having come in for severe criticism at times during the club's barren spell.
Messrs Pires, Vieira and Bergkamp were among the Arsenal side that triumphed over Manchester United on penalties in Cardiff, but the onus now falls on the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and Olivier Giroud to take a first step on the path to emulating those club legends.
Victory on Saturday would make it five FA Cup titles for Wenger, and see Arsenal equal United's record for most Cup wins with 11, but the Frenchman stopped short of labelling this weekend's clash a must-win encounter.
"No matter what the result will be, this club - and this is always most important - can deal with the consequences of any game," he said.
"What is important is that we come out of the game and have the feeling that we gave absolutely our best, our total energy to play at our best and then you always accept the consequences.
"No matter how much we talk about it, you can win and lose but you want to come out of the game feeling you have done the maximum to win and that is what we want to achieve."
Wenger's opposite number Steve Bruce comes with his own FA Cup pedigree, having won the trophy three times as a player with United, but is yet to climb Wembley's famous steps as a manager.
This will be Hull's first appearance in the FA Cup final, and Bruce admits it has been difficult to retain a sense of normality in the build-up.
"We’ve tried to keep it normal, but you can tell it’s not normal," said Bruce. "You can tell from watching the players train that it’s not a normal week.
"For the first time in three or four weeks, there is a real spring in the step of the players. You can detect that and it will build as the week goes on, and so it should.
"When you’re growing up and playing for your junior team, your district team, whoever – you want to do one thing and that is play in an FA Cup final."
There is no doubting Arsenal have had the tougher road to the Wembley showpiece - the Emirates Stadium outfit have seen off Tottenham, Liverpool, Everton and defending champions Wigan Athletic on their way to this weekend's showdown, while Hull's only top-flight opponents were Sunderland in the quarter-finals.
But Arsenal have a cup upset in their locker - losing 2-1 to the eventually relegated Birmingham City in the 2011 League Cup final.
That said, Hull will be without attacking duo Shane Long and Nikica Jalavic, who are cup tied after their respective January moves to the KC Stadium, while a number of key players, including Allan McGregor, Paul McShane and Sone Aluko, have recovered just in time to be involved.
Defender James Chester (hamstring) is Bruce's only major injury doubt.
Meanwhile, Thomas Vermaelen (knee) and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (groin) face a race against time to be fit for Arsenal.