Lehmann, Lauren, Toure, Senderos, Cole, Gilberto Silva, Vieira, Fabregas, Pires, Bergkamp, Reyes.
That is a teamsheet that plenty of Arsenal fans would be able to reel off without much problem at all – the last Gunners team to lift a trophy that wasn’t the pre-season trinket that is the Emirates Cup.
That collection of players were the last to prevent the cruel jibes and mocking laughter that Arsenal supporters have suffered in the nine years since. Of course it is harder to support 99.9% of the other teams on the planet – the near misses, the relegations, the flirtations with extinction, the despotic owners – but try telling that to the hardcore in North London.
Yet their wait will surely be over come Saturday evening, won’t it? There is simply no way that Arsene Wenger and his players can let this FA Cup Final opportunity pass.
The lesson taught by Wigan’s shock victory over Manchester City last season tells us that nothing can be ruled out, of course, but it also suggests that the same sort of thing can’t happen twice in such quick succession, regardless of how impressive Steve Bruce and Hull City have been at times this season.
They will give a good account of themselves in what is the club’s first FA Cup Final in their 110-year history. The fans will smile, they will chant, they will watch their team put up a brave fight but they will ultimately end up on the losing side. All the things that were expected of Wigan last season.
Football fans can do nothing but wish Hull well, but this feels like it has to be Arsenal’s day.
The Gunners are an unappealing 1.25 to lift the trophy and 1.45 to win the match in 90 minutes – short, but still not as short as Manchester City were last season.
Better value can be found in Wenger’s men being ahead at the break at 1.96, whilst with both teams having found the net in just four of the last 20 FA Cup finals, the Gunners are also 2.14 to win at Wembley without conceding.
Lukas Podolski has been in decent scoring form towards the end of the season, and the German is 5.40 to notch the first strike and 2.67 to score at any time, whilst his compatriot Per Mertesacker has scored at Wembley for club and country and is a tempting 10.00 to find the net. Having won their last trophy in Cardiff though, it is a man who used to call the Welsh capital home who could be the inspiration for Wenger’s men.
As discussed in Jonathan Wilson’s tactical preview of the match, Aaron Ramsey was a huge miss for Arsenal when he was absent through injury this season, and he can be the player to deliver for them as their trophy drought comes to an end.
Having scored against Hull in the Premier League last month, Ramsey has to be snapped up at 3.05 to find the net at any time in the final, whilst an anytime Matchcast bet gives you 3.55 on Ramsey to score and Arsenal to win, and you could even be further tempted with a Ramsey goal in a 2-0 Gunners win at 17.00.
Correct score prediction
Arsenal 2 Hull City 0 – 7.00
Arsenal to win to nil – 2.14
Aaron Ramsey to score and Arsenal to win – 3.55