As Wigan aim to attempt the unthinkable and reach their 2nd consecutive FA Cup Final, Arsene Wenger hopes to bring an end to the 8 year "Trophyless" season at the Emirates and claim a first major trophy for Arsenal since 2005. As both sides look to book their place in the 2014 FA Cup Final.
As Wigan go into their 54th competitive game of a dragging campaign, they still haven't given up hope of retaining the Old Trophy but go into this game as the underdogs as they did the last 2 rounds against Cardiff and Manchester City respectfully but as we all know Wigan Athletic are a bookmakers nightmare.
Wigan's form has taken a bit of a drop in recent weeks after disappointing performances against Bolton and Leeds followed by a poor result against Millwall on Tuesday, Wigan have seemed to have lost that "New manager's touch" of some sort however the best game of football played at the DW this season where Wigan hosted Leicester does give encouragement that Wigan will step up to the occasion when it's called for which we have seen on so many occasions during recent years.
Wigan's record in the FA Cup in the past two seasons is more than impressive having won 10 and drawing two, beating the likes of Everton, Cardiff City, Millwall and the mighty Manchester City on two occasions. Latics' continue to improve under Uwe Rosler as the German heads back to Wembley after a crushing play-off final defeat with Brentford last year. Wigan's last meeting with Arsenal was 4 days after Last Year's Final where Wigan were relegated after losing 4-1 on a rainy night down at The Emirates. However there has been some bright moments in the past where the Latics have faced Arsenal. for example the League Cup Semi Final where a Jason Roberts goal in the last minute of extra time was enough to book Wigan a spot in their first major cup final on away goals. Paul Jewell who guided Wigan to that Carling Cup final believes Wigan can perform the same heroics when they take on Arsenal tomorrow:
"The strong point that stands out to me and the factor Arsenal will have to think about is that this team bounce back stronger than most."It’s not been easy at times, and Uwe’s side have dropped behind in games, but they battle and they make sure they get the right results the majority of the time."It’s going to be difficult there’s no question about that, Arsenal have got great players on paper, but they’re not going through a great time at the minute.
Arsenal meanwhile aren't enjoying the best of times this season, after a 3-0 defeat at Goodison Park at the hands of Everton and former Latics' Boss Roberto Martinez, Arsene Wenger will be left chomping at the bit to prove his sides resilience and get at least a trophy this season, if not a top 4 spot too. Their Champions League hopes are becoming seriously under pressure from Roberto Martinez's side having only won 3 of their last ten, the blue side of Merseyside have quickly closed the gap on Arsenal to just a point with a game in hand after picking up maximum points last month. Will Arsense Wenger sacrifice a top 4 spot for a long awaited piece of silver and another season at the helm of the Gunners? Or keep up a perfect record of being in the Champions League every season under Wenger's control? Time will soon tell.
There are no new injury concerns for Uwe Rosler ahead of this weekend. Shaun Maloney completed a full 90 minutes on Tuesday, Nick Powell will be fresh as will Callum McManaman. Rob Kiernan and Martyn Waghorn are cup-tied however.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Kieran Gibbs and Thomas Rosicky face late fitness tests for their respective injuries, Aaron Ramsey could start after featuring from the bench against Everton. Although there is no Laurent Koscielny, Mesut Ozil, Jack Wilshere, Abou Diaby or Mathieu Flamini much to Uwe Rosler's delight, the latter being suspended.
I think Arsene Wenger could be saying that this is his trophy already and underestimate us massively, which will work in our favour, Wigan's canny knack of stepping up against big teams will need to come in hand tomorrow as whoever does win this Semi-final has a great chance of winning the cup.
Odds (Paddy Power):
Arsenal- 1/2 (fav)
Pick- Wigan 2-1 @20/1
Sheffield United vs Hull City (Sunday 4:07)
Please do pay your respects to the 96 who lost their lives at Hillsborough 25 years ago. YNWA.