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FA Cup Final: Underdogs Villa must take inspiration from their biggest rivals

29 May | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
FA Cup Final: Underdogs Villa must take inspiration from their biggest rivals

The Gunners are heavy favourites to lift the cup a record 12th time, so how can the Villans stop them?

Ok, hands up who thinks Villa will win the cup? (You’re not allowed to play if you’re a Villa fan).

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? No?

Well, seeing as you’re all plumping for an Arsenal win, let’s see where we can find some encouragement for the Villa fans, and Tim Sherwood and his band of merry men.

Perhaps the record books? Villa are a storied club, so how does their cup history stack up against the Gunners?

Well… not great.

The last time Villa won the FA Cup, they beat Manchester United 2-1 in the final at Wembley.

But that was in 1957 and Matt Busby was the United boss that day.

Peter McParland’s two second half goals secured Villa’s seventh Cup final win – a record at the time.

Since then Villa have added five League Cup wins to their trophy haul, plus a League title and even the European Cup in 1982. But the FA Cup has eluded them ever since.

So they do have seven wins – but none at all in almost six decades.

And Arsenal?

The Gunners FA Cup record is somewhat more formidable: 11 wins, putting them level with Manchester United. If Arsenal win it this weekend they will become the most successful club in the history of that most historic of tournaments.

Oh – and they are the current holders too, having seen off Hull City 3-2 in last season’s match to end their nine year trophy drought.

So nothing to warm the cockles of any Villa hearts there then.

And neither is there when comparing the managers’ records: Arsene Wenger is a modern day FA Cup specialist, with five wins under his belt already since he joined Arsenal. One more and he will better even Sir Alex Ferguson’s haul in this competition.

And Sherwood? His sole experience in FA Cup management was a single match last season with Tottenham – a 2-0 defeat in the third round. To Arsenal.

How about Premier League form?

No crumb of comfort here either, if you hail from the claret and blue side of Birmingham.

Arsenal finished third behind Chelsea and Manchester City, while Villa just avoided relegation, finishing 17th – 14 places and a full 37 points behind them.

In the league this season, Villa lost both matches, 3-0 at Villa Park, then 5-0 at the Emirates. That’s no points, eight against, none scored.

How about injuries? Surely Arsenal have a host of first-teamers in the physio room as usual?

Erm, not really. Danny Welbeck is out, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a doubt, but other than that, the squad is a fit as a collective fiddle.

Plus Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere continued their return to peak condition with starring and goal-filled roles in Arsenal’s 4-1 win over West Brom last Sunday.

Meanwhile Villa were busy losing 1-0 at home to relegated Burnley, just a week after shipping six in a shellacking at Southampton.

So is it give up hope, all ye Aston Villa fans who enter Wembley?

Well, no actually. For please bear in mind, this is Arsenal. Arsenal who so nearly contrived to throw away the final last season by going 2-0 down to Hull, before clawing their way back.

But more pertinently – and if you’re willing to put rivalry aside for a moment and take inspiration from the Blue half of the city – the Arsenal who went into the 2011 League Cup final as huge favourites against a Birmingham City side on their way to relegation, and managed to lose it without even the need for extra time.

So there you go, Villa fans – if the Blues can do it…

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