Arsenal’s attempt to win their first trophy since 2005 continues in the FA Cup Final against Hull City at Wembley Stadium on Saturday. Arsenal have won the competition ten times in their history but this is Hull’s first final. Thousands of residents of a town well known for it’s two rugby league clubs will be travelling to Wembley at the weekend for the biggest match in the club’s history.
The match kicks of a 5pm which in my opinion is wrong. In the past the Cup Final was one of just a few matches live on television. Coverage of the match on ITV and BC began in the morning in the old days and Cup Final It’s a Knockout was one of the highlights of my younger days.
There was a massive scarcity value to the Cup final because it was live on television. In those days the most we got was highlights of two fixtures on Match of the Day on Saturday night and regional coverage of two more matches the following afternoon on ITV. It is rare now for a day to pass without a live match, either on terrestrial or satellite television.
The television companies now dictate the scheduling and if the kick-off suits them who cares that the Hull supporters could miss the last train home from London if the match goes to extra time and penalties. Since betting was allowed to be advertised on television the betting companies have more say and if a late start suits them for in play betting purposes then that’s what happens.
Most Premier League clubs now have some commercial tie-in with online bookmakers. Stoke City have a new stadium and decent squad thanks to the backing of the family that owns bet365. Several Asian bookmakers now have an interest in the Premiere League so the clubs must accept that their sponsors will expect fixtures to be played when it suits them.
Hull have reached the Cup Final in a year when their supporters were asked to vote on becoming known as Hull Tigers rather than Hull City to be more attractive as a brand to a global audience. The owner threatened to take his money away if the vote did not go his way. Officially the club could have been called Hull Tigers but would always be known as City to their loyal fans.
The two rugby league clubs are playing each other at exactly the same time as the Cup Final. It’s an indication of the relative interest in both sports that the rugby league match was not considered for rescheduling to allow people from the town to watch the soccer side in the Cup final. Hull alongside Wigan is the only town in England in which their rugby and soccer clubs could win their respective cup finals.
Arsenal beat Manchester United after extra time and penalties in the 2005 Cup Final but have not won another trophy since. Arsene Wenger looks like renewing his contract at a club he first joined in 1996. In that time he has overseen the financing and move to a new stadium and Arsenal are now in a sound financial state. Manchester City are facing huge fines for breaking rules regarding debt so Arsenal’s finances means they can get stronger over the next few years.
Arsenal have qualified for next season’s Champions League which means Hull will play in Europe next season regardless of the outcome of this match. The incentive and motivation for Arsenal will be winning a trophy under Wenger which will make contract negotiations more straightforward and Wenger now looks certain to stay.
Arsenal spent more days at the top of the Premier League table than any other club in 2013-14. At one point they were about even money to win the title but faded over the second half of the season. Aaron Ramsay was the player of the first half of the season but a serious injury was a huge blow for Arsenal at a time when Mesut Ozil had a dip in form.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jack Wilshere should start against Hull. Both have been selected to go to the World Cup with England so Roy Hodgson will be hoping for an injury free and effective match for both players. Theo Walcott has a long term injury and his pace and goals threat will be missed. However, this is a good opportunity for the two young England players to make an impact before the World Cup.
Hull have invested in youth development by appointing a scout with a reputation for finding young talent. The arrival of a proven scout for young players could be the most significant development at the club in many years. In 2000 Hull were in the fourth tier of English football. Since then they have had four seasons at that level, one in tier three and another six in what is now known as the championship.
The club’s manager, Steve Bruce, has guided the team to Premier League safety this season and into Europe for the first time in their history. Bruce understands the importance of a successful youth policy and given another year in the Premier League the club could have a much better future than recent past. However, Hull is still predominantly a rugby league town and most residents will be more interested in that sport than the Cup Final on Saturday.
Arsenal have won the last six fixtures between the clubs, scoring five goals and conceding just three in that run. They beat Hull 2-0 at home and by one more goal in the match in Hull. Arsenal eliminated Hull from the FA Cup in 2008-09 and were last beaten by Saturday’s opponents in the Premier League in the same season.
In the history of this fixture in all competitions Arsenal are averaging almost two goals per game while Hull have scored less than one on average. Arsenal are big favourites to continue their run against Hull backing them to win to nil could be the best betting option. Wigan beat Manchester City in last year’s Cup Final but a shock win for another club from a rugby league town does not seem likely which means Arsenal can win the FA Cup for the 11th time.