by Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (May 16th 2014)
The Long Wait
Nine years of hurt for Arsène Wenger and his Arsenal side could end at Wembley tomorrow evening, or Steve Bruce’s Hull could claim their first ever FA Cup. Having secured Champion’s League football again Arsenal have the chance of a trophy that has eluded them for almost a decade. They start Saturday’s FA Cup Final as favourites. Steve Bruce’s Hull side return to Wembley for a second chance of atrophy, having lost the Carling Cup to eventual Premier League champions Manchester City.
Both sides are guaranteed European football, which will please Hull’s Egyptian winger Ahmed Elmohamady. “Fantastic for the team, for the club – second time this year we are at Wembley”, Elmohamady said, looking forward to the FA Cup final. “It will be a huge game against Arsenal and I think they are all thinking about Europe as well. You know this game is a massive chance for us to play in Europe next year”. He relishes the tag of underdog too.
He’s hoping for some consolation. Once again the Pharaohs missed out qualifying for the World Cup. “Yeah we’re all disappointed we didn’t go to the World Cup you know, but things happen like this”, Elmohamady said. “It’s a good chance to make the year – for it to be a good year for me, for the club, for the players, for everyone in Hull to play in the FA Cup Final against Arsenal – fantastic”.
But he insists that the Pharaohs are ready to become the dominant force in African football after American manager Bob Bradley failed to break the World Cup hoo-doo. “Well, you know we have a new manager – an Egyptian manager – a fantastic manager [Shawky Gharib]”, he says. “We played a friendly game against Bosnia and we did fantastic and we win this game, so we’ll have a good chance to go to Morocco and give the championship again to Egypt”.
Lukas Podolski was in no doubt that the league was Arsenal’s priority. “2005 was the last one, so of course the pressure is there … and you have the chance to win this cup and you know we are now in the final and of course we want to have the Cup now and have the FA Cup, but the important thing is the league”, Podolski said. “Of course every trophy will help us. The seasons have pressure when you don’t win nothing. The newspapers speak about it, the fans get nervous, but we have the chance this year to win the FA Cup so maybe it helps the club, us and the boss to win the Cup, but the other thing is the important thing is to get fourth place back, because when you don’t play in the Champions League it’s a disaster”.
Arsenal have accomplished that goal. Now they can concentrate on tomorrow’s final and the chance to end almost a decade of pain. “It’s important”, Podolski says of the final. “When you are now in the final and we want the title”.
But Curtis Davies has other ideas. “I grew up a [Manchester] United fan watching the gaffer [Steve Bruce], so the ’94 one was massive”, Davies said. “I remember that obviously cos it was for the double. ’96 as well when [Eric] Cantona scored that goal and Liverpool in the white suits as well and ’95 was a memory as well, because United lost that and I said to the gaffer as well that he was on the ground trying to stop the ball when they scored and he didn’t managed to do it”.
Davies regrets the loss of the FA Cup’s aura. It used to be a special event. “You just have to say FA Cup was special at the end of the season – well it used to be; it was an iconic day”, he says. “Everyone stops for the whole day for the FA Cup. I think maybe a little bit of the edge was taken away from it once it was moved to before the last game of the season and things like that, but this year I’m hoping that everyone switches on and watches the game because we’re hoping to make it a good occasion”.
He hopes that Arsenal being the favourites will work in Hull’s favour. “I think that’s if Arsenal have any nervous energy”, Davies said. “I said that Arsenal not having won anything for nine years is going to play on them and in the final they’ll have that edginess about them. I’m hoping the players actually turn up and have that nervous energy, because it’s all good the fans being nervous, but if the players turn up and they’re playing flowing football, it’s going to be tough to beat an Arsenal side”.