5 factors that will decide the FA Cup final between Arsenal and Aston Villa
This weekend will see Arsenal look to defend their FA Cup title against Aston Villa. While not entirely a case of David vs Goliath, Arsenal seem to have the upper hand against the Villans, that is, if we try to go by the stats and the respective positions of the two sides in the league. But as was evident in the last year’s FA Cup final, which Arsenal managed to win after a taxing extra time, form and stats go out of the window on the day of the final; it’s the performance on the day that matters.
The struggle, the pressure of the red letter day is all pervasive, right from the royal family being divided by the claret of the villans and yellow of the gunners to the more plebian supporters of both the clubs. We take a look at the factors that would be having a say on how the game pans out.
Along with the tag of being the favorites comes the obvious pitfall of living in the bubble of complacency. Football history is riddled with various anecdotes of the proverbial tortoise pipping the hare in finals such as this. No doubt Arsene Wenger would be wary of infusing self-belief rather than vanity into his squad. No doubt last season’s FA Cup victory was a stress buster after nine-year drought, but each final is a new final and they cannot afford to rest on past laurels.
Aston Villa have nothing to lose and playing at Wembley would all but give them the confidence to give their best and this is the scenario Arsenal should take a heed of. Moreover, the squad that Villa possesses may not sport world class names but is a squad capable of steering a game in its direction when required with a well gelled midfield, pacy wingers and a prolific striker. And Arsenal also have a knack of going missing at crucial stages, like they did in the last few rounds of the Premier League.
While this will be a momentous occasion for Arsenal (a possible 12th FA Cup win) and Arsene Wenger (a possible 6th FA Cup making him the most successful manager in the competition) the main motive should be to play better than the opponent rather than count chickens before they hatch.
Benteke, in his three years in the EPL, has been able to carve a niche for himself. His ability to bully the defences with his physicality has seen him earn a variety of admirers; so much so that rumors suggest that he may finally move on from Aston Villa after this final. With the manager openly brandishing his buyout clause days before the final, it may actually turn out to be his final game in a villa shirt.
But there is no doubt that big Belgian would be looking to make his mark on the final for his suitors as well his present club. Having missed last year’s World Cup to injury and having a tepid start to this season, Benteke has seen a surge of form of late. While some have attributed the form to Sherwood effect, Benteke has always had the potential and is perhaps incidental that his coming to form and a change in management happened at same time.
A force in himself, Benteke would be key to all things attacking that Aston Villa put forth.
Tim Sherwood has been pivotal in seeing to it that the Birmingham club maintains their Premier League status, albeit by coming 17th and just about avoiding relegation. While people have been talking about the how Sherwood has galvanized the club, there are still chances that he may lead them to their first FA cup in 58 years to add to all that he has done till now.
Sherwood has always been known for his leadership and man management. While he may not have the best of times in public for his outspokenness or overt passion, he surely has a way of extricating performances from his teams through his rapport with the players, particularly the younger lot. Be it at Spurs or now at Aston Villa.
One of the prime factors behind Aston Villa playing this final, it would not be wrong to say that he man management may at the end of the day decide who wins the cup.