Arsenal will begin the defence of the FA Cup trophy with a rematch of last May’s final against Hull City.
Arsene Wenger’s side had to dig deep from an early two-goal deficit within the first 10 minutes at Wembley to salvage our first trophy in 9 years and it will be against the same Steve Bruce’s men that we are begin out journey to retain the trophy.
It’s been a less than steady season for the Gunners so far this term, winning and lose without any real stretch of consistency. There have been far too many draws and defeats in the League to consider us as having a genuine bid to win the Championship. One of those draws – which, by mere whiskers, escaped being a defeat – was even against Hull at the Emirates, Danny Welbeck’s 89th minute goal saving the day.
But there have been enough positives, despite the roller-coasting, to suggest that nothing less than an Arsenal victory will be the outcome of this rematch, and here are just 6 of them.
- Stronger by January
It cannot be much contested that the imbalance in Arsenal’s performances this season have been affected by the ever-rising injury count. We have had players injured almost on a game-by-game basis, as early as the first away trip of the season to Goodison Park. Virtually everyone in the squad has to be unavailable at some point due to one concern or the other, with key players like Mattiue Debuchy, Theo Walcott, Laurent Koscielny and Olivier Giroud all yet to find full form. They have now have began to make gradual strides to full recovery and even if we will still be without Mesut Ozil and Jack Wilshere before the weekend between 3rd and 6th January when Hull will visit, we will have a squad strong enough to put them to the sword.
- We’ll play as Champions
The events of the 27th of May at Wembley made one obvious fact more crystal and clear, there’s nothing as winning a trophy, being a Champion. Fourth place doesn’t come close. And having won a game of that historic significance, in the fashion we did, the players will take on to the pitch, not with the memory and tension of a 9-year drought behind them, but with the cheer of being champions and valedictorians. There may not be a golden badge affixed to the kit, but the joy glory will be the active ingredient of the fluid running through their veins. And that cannot be a bad thing.
- Wenger will want to retain it
13 points is not an awful lot to recover from in a title race, especially if the team to be chased are not invincible. But the reality is that we’re maybe not good enough to last the distance overall. Unfortunately, it was supposed not to be so, as the FA Cup should have been the propeller for a concerted title challenge. With that now slipping away, we wouldn’t want to resume the annual count of years without a trophy and if that’s not to happen this season, the FA Cup must be seen as our best shot. And the only way to do so is to begin by beating the team we overcame to win it last year.
- We have a good record against Hull
Only once have we lost to the Tigers in the last 10 games – Phil Brown’s team in 2008. But we’ve never lost to them in the FA Cup, in two games. In truth, both games were tough and had to be won late in the game by a narrow margin. It could as well be tight this time too, but we will surely pass the needle’s eye once again.
- We beat them in May
The events at Stoke last weekend went some distance to rekindle the nightmarish start to that FS Cup final at Hull but even that 10 minute lead of Bruce’s men was never a guarantee that we would lose. Cazorla’s brilliant free-kick almost immediately after their second goal was the assurance that we’d still win. It was a game where we showed the spirit to fight, characterized by Koscielny’s firm determination to score even at the risk of getting squeezed. That mentality will be in us again, and even if we did go behind against, expect another brilliant comeback…
- …and another Aaron Ramsey Special
For all he did last season, Ramsey deserved to be the one to score the winning goal in the final in May, despite having a less than impressive performance. He has not been at his best this season, but three goals in his last two games – and two goals and one assit in his last three against Hull, all ending in victories – must tell you all you need to know about the odds. If he plays, and probably scores, we win.
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