Holders Arsenal will be strong favourites when they take on Aston Villa in the FA Cup final at Wembley on Saturday.
It seems Mesut Ozil has taken a liking to Aston Villa. Arsenal’s creative playmaker has already scored home and away against them in the Premier League this season, the only team against which he’s achieved that feat in his two seasons at the Emirates Stadium. Villa will have to be particularly watchful of the German on Saturday as he could well find the space he craves in the wide open expanses of Wembley.
The Gunners finished 13 places above Villa in the Premier League table but that will count for little at the weekend.
Also, Welbeck will miss out due to injury.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Mathieu Debuchy (both hamstring) and captain Mikel Arteta (ankle) are in contention after returning to training following recent injuries.
Provisional squad: Ospina, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Wilshere, Walcott, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ozil, Sanchez, Giroud, Szczesny, Gabriel, Monreal, Debuchy, Coquelin, Cazorla, Rosicky, Flamini, Arteta.
Shay Given is set to be fit for Aston Villa’s first FA Cup final in 15 years after returning to training following a groin injury.
Aly Cissokho (groin), Kieran Richardson (calf) and Jores Okore (knee) have also trained but Ciaran Clark (knee) is out while Libor Kozak remains sidelined as he continues to recover from a broken leg.
Provisional squad: Guzan, Given, Lowton, Hutton, Senderos, Bacuna, Vlaar, Okore, Baker, Richardson, Cissokho, Delph, Cleverley, Westwood, Grealish, Cole, Sanchez, Gil, Sinclair, N’Zogbia, Benteke, Weimann, Agbonlahor.
As we know, Villa will give it a good going ahead of the clash, on the other hand, the Gunners will want to add more silverware to their trophie cabinet.
Aston Villa have kept just two clean sheets in their last 21 FA Cup matches.
Aston Villa have played in the FA Cup final 10 times, winning seven. They last won the FA Cup in 1957, beating West Bromwich Albion (in the semi-finals) along the way.
Olivier Giroud has scored seven and assisted four goals in his 13 FA Cup appearances, and has scored in each of his last three games against Villa.
Each of the last three times Arsenal have faced second tier opposition in the semi-final they’ve gone on to win the trophy (1998, 2003 and 2014).
Only George Ramsay (6 with Aston Villa) has won the FA Cup as a manager more times than Arsene Wenger (5).
Arsenal and Aston Villa have been drawn together 10 times in the FA cup with the Gunners winning seven and the Villans three. Overall there have been 13 matches with three draws.
The last FA Cup meeting between these two sides came in 2012 when Villa led 2-0 at half-time only to see the Gunners overturn the deficit in a seven minute period in the second half to record a 3-2 win.
Arsenal have won 22 and lost just three of the last 34 matches in all competitions against Aston Villa (W22 D9 L3). All three of those defeats came at the Emirates.
Christian Benteke has scored three goals in his last three appearances against Arsenal.
Danny Welbeck has scored four goals in his last four appearances against Aston Villa.
But he will not be playing Saturday’s final- due to injury.
Eight of the last nine FA Cup matches involving Aston Villa have been settled by a one-goal margin. Six of the last eight have seen a 2-1 scoreline.
16 of the last 21 FA Cup finals have seen only one team find the net. Four of the five in that run where both sides have scored have been won by the team conceding first.
Good luck to both teams, we can see this game being a great final.⚽️