Aston Villa fans are in buoyant mood ahead of tomorrow’s FA Cup Final against Arsenal.
Victory in the concluding game of the season will see Tim Sherwood’s side lift the trophy for the first time since 1957, beating Manchester United in the process.
The match is the first time Villa have reached the final since 2000 and their supporters believe the side can go one better this time around.
Arsenal will be testing opponents, however, as the Gunners will become the most successful side in the competition with 13 trophies. Arsene Wenger would also have won the cup the most time post-war as a manager.
Despite back-to-back defeats in their last couple of league games, Villa will be looking to cause another upset in the competition, having beaten Liverpool in the previous round.
One of the scorers in the semi-final was Christian Benteke and Steve Daniels, a 38-year-old labourer from Sutton Coldfield, believes the Belgian striker will be key to Villa’s hopes: “On his day, there aren’t many better strikers in the Premiership.
“He can be a real bully at times and knows how to find the back of the net. If we can get the ball to him in the air or behind the Arsenal defence, Benteke will be crucial to whether we win the trophy or not on Saturday.”
A big dilemma for Villa boss Tim Sherwood is who will be between the sticks on Saturday evening. Shay Given has played in the majority of cup games this season, while Brad Guzan has been the number 1 during the league campaign.
Michelle Townsend, a retail assistant from Solihull, hopes to see Sherwood give Irishman Given the nod ahead of American Guzan: “Brad Guzan has been great this season, but it wouldn’t be fair on Shay Given if he misses out after playing in the cup games.
“Given is a good goalkeeper and now he has been passed fit I think his experience of big games will be vital to help the defence on a big occasion like this.”
Tony Read, from Bartley Green, was at Wembley when Villa lifted the trophy back in 1957 as a young boy and the 67-year-old expects to see the same result against Arsenal as took place 58 years ago: “It might have been a poor season in the league, but the lads have done fantastically well in the cup this year.
“For a club the size of Aston Villa, it is awful that we haven’t won a trophy for so long and I think the drought will end Saturday.
“Arsenal have some injuries and selection problems and that will work in our favour. My prediction is 2-1 to Villa with Fabian Delph scoring the winner again.”
Brad Smith, a 27-year-old engineer from Castle Vale, is looking forward to a midfield battle where he hopes Villa can come out on top: “Both teams are very strong in the middle of the park and whoever wins that battle will win the trophy.
“Tom Cleverley and Jack Grealish have been excellent over the last few months and it would be great to see them carry that form into the final, especially with Jack’s grandfather lifting the competition too!
“I think it’ll be 1-0 after extra time with Ron Vlaar scoring the goal.”