FA Cup Preview: Wigan look to continue title-defense against trophy-starved Arsenal, Can Sheffield United continue Cinderella run against Hull?

IMAGE, ARSENAL.COM

BY MATTHEW LEVINE
Staff Writer

Around the world, and particularly in the English game, there are teams with longer trophy droughts than Arsenal Football Club of London. However, there’s continues to gather traction as the calendar years flip. At the moment, the players need a trophy, the club needs a trophy, and Arsene Wenger needs a trophy to justify any contract extension.

The Gunners’ form has been a mixed bag recently, looking very solid against Manchester City and then getting mauled by a hungrier Everton. It continues to be a case of Jekyll and Hyde for Arsenal and it’s always a question of which one will show up.

With form seeing the club drift outside of title contention and on the brink of losing Top Four status to the Toffees, the FA Cup continues to represent the best chance at a breakthrough for a trophy.

The Gunners square off against Wigan at Wembley for the right to play in the final. Arsenal have done extremely well to get to this stage of the competition in knocking off two fellow Premier League clubs, Liverpool and Everton. Wigan’s run to the semis saw them knock two Premier League clubs out as well, struggling Cardiff and more admirably, Manchester City in last year’s FA Cup final rematch.

Wigan have provided a thorn in Arsenal’s side on several occasions before their relegation to the Championship. Although the Gunners may be the favorites, they will be missing several players through injury. Arsenal could be without Laurent KoscielnyMesut OzilKieran Gibbs, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Tomas RosickyJack Wilshere is also still unavailable. 

For Wigan, they will certainly look to capitalize on any missing players from the Gunners’ regular line-up. Callum McManaman will certainly cause problems for the Arsenal back line and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him drive at Nacho Monreal, who struggled against Everton.

The second tier side will also need another man of the match performance from center back Titus Bramble. His efforts were crucial in Wigan defeating Man City and he’ll need another strong performance in the heart of the Latics central defense.

Other FA Cup Fixtures

1. Sheffield United Hope To Continue Magic Of The Cup– In any cup competition, there is always hope an underdog story is involved deep into the competition. In this year’s FA Cup, Sheffield United has stepped up to play that role.

The Blades are carrying the torch for League One, the third tier in the English pyramid.  Sheffield United has already knocked out Aston Villa and Fulham en route to the semi-finals. They will look to advance to the final, while beating a third in Hull City.

Hull breezed past Sunderland in the last round with a 3-0 win, while Sheffield United knocked off Charlton Athletic 2-0.

The League One side has had a good record defensively in their league (sixth best), but have struggled mightily at the other end. The club is incidentally the 6th worst in the league going forward.

However, the Blades have still had a fantastic run in the competition. Do they have another stellar performance to reach the final and continue their magical run in the cup?

Hull City will certainly hope not.