The FA Cup final is one of the great days on the English football calendar. Whether your team is involved or not, it is always one to tune into. Either as two great teams square-off or to see a plucky underdog try and take down the favourite.
This year it is the latter as Hull take on Arsenal at Wembley on Saturday afternoon. The Gunners are the hot favourites to triumph, but the Tigers will be looking to repeat Wigan's feat of 12 months ago; beating the odds to lift the trophy.
Hull are 7/1 with some bookmakers, per Oddschecker.com, to down Arsene Wenger's side. This is a lengthy price, but Wigan were longer than that when they defeated Manchester City last year, so miracles can happen.
Arsene Wenger's sanity may be severely damaged were his side to lose the contest, but he is sure his job will not hinge on the result, per InsideWorldFootball:
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says Saturday's FA Cup final against Hull City will have no impact on his future #AFC— InsideWorldFootball (@insidewldftball) May 15, 2014
Looking at the form book ahead of the match does not offer Hull fans much hope of causing an upset. Whilst their first season back in the Premier League has undoubtedly been a success, it has not ended particularly well.
Steve Bruce's men have lost six of their last eight Premier League matches; their only win in that time being a 1-0 home victory over Swansea. This worrying tail-off saw them drop from comfortable mid-table to flirt with the danger of relegation. The Tigers eventually finished 16th in the division; commendable, but it could have been much better.
Worryingly for Hull fans, their defence had been their strong suit all season, but it is that which has capitulated of late. Having conceded just 40 goals in their first 33 league games, they have let in 13 in their last five. Arsenal's forwards may be licking their lips at the prospect of such a leaky back four.
In contrast to the Tigers, Arsenal finished the season with a flourish. They won their last five games, scoring 12 goals in the process and conceding just one. This included a 3-0 win over their opponents this Saturday.
It has been an impressive recovery from Wenger and his side as they looked a team devoid of confidence just days before this winning spell. Heavy defeats to Chelsea and Everton seemed to put their Champions League place in jeopardy, but they have responded superbly, and they are now in fine form.
This impressive string of results has coincided with the return to form of their main striker Olivier Giroud. The Frenchman had been going through a lean spell in front of goal, but three goals in his last five games will give him confidence heading to Wembley.
Their upturn in results has also come at the same time as Aaron Ramsey's return from injury, as Goonerz1886 points out:
#Arsenal form after Aaron Ramsey came back from injury: WWWWW.— Arsenal (@Goonerz1886) May 12, 2014
Important news for Hull is that Robby Brady may make a return from groin surgery which has kept him out of action since February. The 22-year-old was certainly one of the Tigers' better players in the first half of the campaign, and his return would boost the side.
Steve Bruce spoke of the Irishman's remarkable recovery, per the Hull Daily Mail:
Robbie Brady's come from nowhere in the last couple of weeks. It's amazing what an FA Cup final does.
We've seen him in training for the first time in six months so it's been incredible.
It looks less positive for defender James Chester, though, who will probably miss out due to a hamstring injury, per Rory Dollard in the Daily Mail.
It is not yet known whether Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Thomas Vermaelen will recover from their respective injuries in time for the final. The Ox has been suffering from a groin issue, whilst Vermaelen has a knee injury. Both will have to complete fitness tests before the match, per Nick Lustig in the Daily Star.
Huge FA Cup boost for Arsenal. Bendtner is training! On a more serious note, Oxlade-Chamberlain is training with the first team group...— John Cross (@johncrossmirror) May 14, 2014
Long-term casualty Theo Walcott remains sidelined, but otherwise, Arsene Wenger has a reasonably clean bill of health ahead of the big day.
The FA Cup Final can be watched on ITV.com, via ITVPlayer.