The FA Cup is just around the corner and as Arsenal prepare to tackle their in-form fellow Londoners Chelsea, fans are looking at the players that could probably turn the game on its head.
Aaron Ramsey was the ultimate FA Cup hero for Arsenal after a decade at the club and 350 appearances. The Welshman became legendary in the competition with his decisive goals and general contribution, especially in a final.
In 2014, Hull went 2-0 up against the Gunners, but the tide started turning with goals from Santi Cazorla and Laurent Koscielny. However, it looked like penalties could be the only way to split the sides until Aaron Ramsey’s last-minute dash into the box to receive a backheel from Giroud in the 109th-minute. He dispatched the ball firmly into the net and dropped to the ground triggering memories of Charlie George in 1971. Arsenal had ended their nine-year wait for a trophy, thanks to their box-to-box star, who barely had a whiff of goal that day.
Rob Holding was probably the fans’ hero of 2017 because of his ongoing battle with Diego Costa. The two had their private duel and in the most memorable moment, Holding entered into mind games and walked back whilst looking at Costa tapping his temple.
Everywhere Costa was, Holding was waiting, tussling, bumping into and tackling all afternoon long, eventually wearing Costa down until he was largely anonymous. It was a magnificent performance and one that had pundits and fans heaping lavish praise of the Englishman.
The 2020 FA Cup final sees a buoyant Chelsea arrive at Wembley intent on closing the only remaining door to a place in Europe for Arsenal. In the current form, Chelsea would appear to be favourites, but the FA Cup rarely considers form in any equation. So who is likely to be Arsenal’s hero?
Well, of course, Aubameyang and Lacazette will be mentioned but perhaps, success hinges on the partnership between Granit Xhaka and Dani Ceballos, who will need to advance and repel in equal measure. Is it a game for Arsenal’s new fan favourite Kieran Tierney, who scored his first goal for the club against Watford or will it be the brilliant hands of Martinez who keeps the blues at bay? Perhaps, Holding will shine again, this time against former Gunner Olivier Giroud, we can only hope for a similar display to the Costa blockade.
The most intriguing element of this game is the prospect of David Luiz against his former club. The Brazilian has had mixed fortunes this campaign, yet, he is the one who has the most to prove. Finally, could it be Pepe who has spluttered this season? He has the talent but has lacked the consistency and cutting edge. This is a stage that is perfect for either establishing reputations or ruining them, something everyone will be mindful of.
Arsenal will have to offer a wholehearted performance against Chelsea, similar to that against Liverpool and Manchester City to win the FA Cup but there’s always someone that stands out for a winning side. The most obvious hero is Aubameyang, the most unexpected would be Luiz, but that’s when the history pages of football tend to write themselves.
What went before counts for little because it’s all about the here and now. It’s all about taking opportunities on the big stage, perhaps a moment of brilliance or a decision that changes the complexion of the game. Enjoy the FA Cup final and let’s hope Mikel Arteta gets his reward for his efforts.