Arsene Wenger will aim to lift his fifth FA Cup and end a nine-year wait for a trophy, when his side lines up against Hull City in Saturday’s Wembley final.
The Gunners last won the oldest cup competition in the world in 2005, when they defeated Manchester United via penalties at the Cardiff Stadium- with Wembley under construction at that time.
Since then, club fans have had to wait patiently for success, as the ‘Gunners’ lost the 2006 Champions League final to Barcelona, followed by League Cup final losses in 2007 (Chelsea) and 2011 ( Birmingham City).
“The drought may make it a little more difficult but at the end of the day once you walk the line you just focus on your football,” said Wenger in his pre-Cup final spin.
“You don’t play with the history, you play with your quality and your desire to play well.”
Hull, ranked underdogs for this tie, have already secured European football for next season; first time in the history of the club.
But Steve Bruce’s men need victory to go straight into the group stage of Europe’s second-tier club competition, as an Arsenal victory means they will play in the third qualifying round of the Europa League.
“We are ranked outsiders,” said Bruce. “Arsenal are clear favourites but for a club like ours to take on the mighty Arsenal has a ring to it which is what the FA cup is all about.”
Last season’s final saw Wigan- against all odds- stun clear favourites Manchester City to the title, and the Welsh and former Man United midfielder, now coach, believes the ‘Tigers’ will repeat such feat.
“It is the mighty Arsenal with all their history, tradition, huge support and a huge club against a smaller club and the attraction is the ability of the smaller club to turn them over,” Bruce added.
“We have to hope that we can do that and we have every belief that we can. That brings a little bit of glamour back to the competition along with what Wigan did last year.
“Wigan’s win said to me that we had a chance. We were never going to win the Premeir League, but I asked if we could win six games in the FA Cup. We’ve won five so far. can we add the sixth? it would be terrific if we could.”
Arsenal, who are in their 18th FA Cup final, look to- likewise record for most appearances- equal United’s record of 11 wins if they lift the trophy.
“The FA Cup is the biggest cup with the biggest history in the world,” Germany international, Lukas Podolski said in his pre-match briefing, while also admitting the occasion comes with its pressure undertone.
“Of course, when you win the trophy, and go there, to the national team, of course we (the players) feel better.”
“It is a big game not only for the manager, for the club, for the fans as well. When you win nothing for nine years and you are in the final, the pressure is big.”
Winners of the 2013/14 FA Cup will take home a brand new trophy as the Football Association (FA) is retiring the current cup due to wear and tear.
The triumphant side receives £1.8m in prize money, with the runners-up receiving £900,000.