Arsenal aim to end their nine-year trophy drought when they face Hull City at Wembley on Saturday in the FA Cup Final (17:00 BST, live on ITV1).
The Gunners come into the match on the back of a 2-0 victory over Norwich in their last fixture of the Premier League season. They finished fourth in the table, three points behind Chelsea in third, with 79 points from 24 wins, seven draws and seven defeats.
Arsene Wenger’s men were made to sweat in their FA Cup semi-final against Championship side Wigan. They were held to a 1-1 draw in normal and then extra time, before winning 4-2 on penalties. They had previously seen off Tottenham Hotspur, Coventry City, Liverpool and Everton on route to Wembley.
Arsenal ended the league season on a high, with five consecutive victories allowing them to see off a strong challenge from Everton for the final Champions League qualifying position. The 10-time FA Cup winners will now be confident of securing a first trophy since 2005, particularly with the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil (pictured) having returned from injury.
The pair have added greater incisiveness to Arsenal’s attacking play since their return to the side. The pace of Theo Walcott is still a big miss, but the Gunners have looked more dangerous in the final third during the final weeks of the campaign. They have generally been quite solid in defence throughout the season, but have capitulated on a few occasions against fellow top five sides.
Wenger will definitely be without the injured Walcott (knee) for this match, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (groin), Serge Gnabry (knee) and Thomas Vermaelen (knee) are doubtful.
Hull travel to Wembley on the back of a 2-0 defeat at home to Everton last weekend. They ended a solid first season back in the Premier League in 16th, four points clear of the relegation zone, with 37 points from 10 wins, seven draws and 21 defeats.
Steve Bruce’s side have enjoyed a fairly easy passage to the final, having faced just one Premier League team, Sunderland, along the way. Middlesborough, Southend United, Brighton and Sheffield United are the other sides they have defeated on route to Wembley. Their 5-3 semi-final victory over Sheffield United was a classic back and forth cup tie.
Newly promoted Hull were odds on, second favourites for the drop at the beginning of the season. Canny signings, last summer and in January, provided them with the necessary quality to compete in the top flight and after a good start to the campaign, flurries of draws and victories at intermediate points thereafter proved sufficient to keep them in the division.
The club’s ascension to the top flight was based on defensive solidity rather than goalscoring prowess and goals have unsurprisingly continued to be a problem for Hull in the Premier League. They ended the season having scored an average of one per match, with their top scorer, January signing Nikica Jelavic, providing just five.
Bruce is likely to be without the injured James Chester (hamstring) for this FA Cup Final, while Robbie Brady (groin) faces a race against time to be fit after three months on the sidelines. Matty Fryatt is carrying a knock but is expected to start. Jelavic and Shane Long are both cup-tied after appearing in the competition for their previous clubs.
Arsenal vs Hull City FA Cup Final Betting Tips Verdict
Arsenal were victorious in both of the league encounters between these sides this season, winning 2-0 at home and 3-0 when they met in Hull last month. The Gunners have won each of the last six meetings, including a 2-1 victory in the FA Cup quarter final of 2009.
Arsenal have the necessary quality at both ends of the pitch to justify their position as odds on favourites to win at Wembley on Saturday. They are decent in defence, while the return of Ozil and Ramsey had added greater impetus to their attacking play. They have already defeated Hull comfortably on two occasions this season.
This will be Hull’s first major final and their players are sure to be fired up and keen to take advantage of the opportunity. Bruce’s sides are generally well organised and Hull will certainly not make things easy for Arsenal. Their lack of offensive power is, however, likely to be their downfall.
- Back Arsenal -1 on an Asian Handicap @ best odds of 790/1000 with Ladbrokes. The bet pays out if Arsenal win by two or more goals, while a one-goal victory sees your stake returned
- Arsenal scored in both halves in each of their league victories over Hull this season and in three of their final five matches of the season. Once again they will aim to establish an early advantage. Back Arsenal to score in both halves @ best odds of 11/8 with William Hill.