FA Cup final preview: Aston Villa underdogs in Arsenal’s pursuit of back-to-back cups

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  • Arsenal to play in a record 19th FA Cup final
  • Villa haven’t won the FA Cup since 1957
  • The Gunners won 3-0 and 5-0 vs. Villa during PL season

On Saturday the FA Cup final takes place at Wembley Stadium in London, as Premier League duo Arsenal and Aston Villa do battle for the famous trophy.

Arsenal is the defending champions, as the Gunners defeated Hull City 3-2 in extra time in a dramatic final last season.

[ FOLLOW LIVE: Arsenal vs. Villa from Wembley ]

Once again Arsene Wenger’s side will be the heavy favorites in their native north London but Tim Sherwood’s Aston Villa stunned Liverpool in the semifinal and despite finishing just one place above the relegation zone in the PL this season and being hammered twice by Arsenal during their league meetings, the Villans will fancy their chances of causing an upset in world soccer’s oldest cup competition.

If Villa’s star striker Christian Benteke can get at Arsenal’s defense early on then we are in for one heck of an FA Cup final. Also, Villa’s U.S. national team goalkeeper Brad Guzan could be the first American to play in an FA Cup final since Tim Howard went to Wembley with Everton in 2009. In team news Arsenal will be without striker Danny Welbeck, while Mathieu Debuchy and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are battling to make the squad. Villa could welcome back Shay Given and Kieran Richardson from injury for the showpiece final which brings down the curtain on the domestic season in England.

How they got there

Aston Villa

Third round: 1-0 vs. Blackpool
Fourth round: 2-1 vs. Bournemouth
Fifth round: 2-1 vs. Leicester City
Quarterfinals: 2-0 vs. West Bromwich Albion
Semifinals: 2-1 vs. Liverpool

Arsenal

Third round: 2-0 vs. Hull City
Fourth round: 3-2 vs. Brighton and Hove Albion
Fifth round: 2-0 vs. Middlesbrough
Quarterfinals: 2-1 vs. Manchester United
Semifinals: 2-1 (AET) vs. Reading

What they’re saying

Arsene Wenger on Arsenal’s new balance: “We are more stable defensively than we were before and I think that’s a good basis to go from there. We still have some improvements to make but overall I think there’s a style of play that we set and our balance between attacking and defending is much better. We have a good opportunity to show that on Saturday.”

Tim Sherwood on Villa being underdogs: “We know we’re huge underdogs, but every time we’ve been underdogs and I’ve asked them for a big performance we’ve produced it – at Tottenham and Man City, in the FA Cup against Liverpool, even a huge performance in the FA Cup against Albion. They can rise to the occasion – they just need to do it one more time. It’s a great opportunity for everyone to give the club a platform to move on.”

Prediction

Arsenal will be the big favorites heading into this one but just like last season against Hull, it is likely to be a very tight game. Expect Villa to come flying out of the traps and if they score early, this game could change on its head. I expect the Gunners to weather the storm and prevail. 2-1 to Arsenal as Wenger will guide them to back-to-back FA Cup trophies.