She wore. She wore. She wore a yellow ribbon.
Arsenal are returning to Wembley, and this weekend marks a record 19th appearance in the FA Cup Final.
If we manage to defend out title the season will be perceived a s a pretty successful one and we will win the cup for a record 12th time – there is plenty on the line, but the pressure is something we are used to. In fact, it was worse 12 months ago.
“It’s an opportunity to finish our season on a high and to reward the whole team with a trophy. That’s what you want to achieve,” said Arsène Wenger on Wednesday.
The manager has won the FA Cup five times in 18 attempts up to now, and could equal George Ramsey’s record of winning it six times as a manager. That record was made with Saturday’s opponents Aston Villa, and has stood alone since 1920.
“I cannot measure the pressure on me, but personally I am always the same when I go to a big game like this – I just want to do it.
“Maybe last year the expectation level was more demanding – the demand was absolute last year. But we have our own demands inside the group here and we have high expectation for our game on Saturday and we want to do it.”
Doing it would crown Arsenal as the most successful club, and Wenger the most successful manager, in the history of the most famous cup competition in the world.
Wearing yellow on Saturday, Arsenal are snubbing the ‘cup kit’ to don their famous cup colours. Yellow is synonymous with Arsenal winning the cup – most notably Charlie George laying on the turf in 1971 and Alan Sunderland running away shouting any number of expletives after scoring the winner in 1979.
But since that 3-2 win over Manchester United we have only lost in yellow. Four cup finals in total, one in the FA Cup. West Ham, Valencia, Galatasaray, and Barcelona have all celebrated trophies with the Gunners in yellow.
Time to put that to an end.
Danny Welbeck has been ruled out of the FA Cup Final but everyone else is available. Mikel Arteta has been in full training and Mathieu Debuchy and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have now joined him, though they’re all short on match practice.
Arsène Wenger has some big decisions to make ahead of the game. Wojciech Szczęsny has been our FA Cup goalkeeper and will hope to be reinstated for the game.
Theo Walcott will also hope to be in. Olivier Giroud has failed to score in eight appearances while Walcott played up front on Sunday and netted a first half hat-trick against West Brom.
Nacho Monreal has been superb this season but Kieran Gibbs has played the last two games.
Jack Wilshere also played brilliantly on Sunday – but can Wenger afford to leave out one of Santi Cazorla, or Aaron Ramsey?
No matter what the bench will be strong.
Possible XI: Szczęsny; Bellerín, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Coquelin, Cazorla; Ramsey, Özil, Alexis; Walcott.
Aston Villa have had a turbulent season but things have looked better since appointing Tim Sherwood.
Sherwood has led the club to a Wembley return following victory over Liverpool in last month’s semi-final, and they will be determined to go one step better.
Earlier in the season Arsenal won 3-0 at Villa Park and 5-0 in the return fixture in London, but there is no room for complacency.
Sherwood also lifted the club away from a relegation battle, giving them freedom to play as well as the confidence to do so has worked a treat.
Christian Benteke has found his shooting boots again while the midfield, driven by Fabian Delph, has looked more fired up. Creative teenage midfielder Jack Grealish has made a spot out wide his own and has been a revelation.
At the back Ron Vlaar smartly marshals the side, but Sherwood’s favoured ‘caution to the wind’ approach can leave them exposed and, on a bad day, they can leak goals – as Southampton gleefully discovered just two weeks ago.
Possible XI: Given; Bacuna, Vlaar, Baker, Richardson; Cleverley, Westwood, Delph; Agbonlahor, Benteke, Grealish.
The FA Cup is on the line this weekend. So is the chance to become the most successful club in its history, led by the most successful manager who has ever competed for it.
She wore a yellow ribbon in the merry month of May.
Let’s hope that famous old trophy is adorned with yellow ribbons come Saturday night.