The way Aston Villa overcame the odds to beat Liverpool in their FA Cup semi-final at Wembley is the template for success in Saturday’s final against Arsenal, manager Tim Sherwood said on Thursday.
Villa beat the Merseysiders 2-1 with one of their best performances of an indifferent season, two months after Sherwood replaced Paul Lambert, who had been sacked with the team 18th in the Premier League.
“I believe we’re going to get a performance like we put in against Liverpool,” he told a news conference.
“I know what the boys are capable of in one-off games. On big occasions, they’ve produced the goods and we need to do it one more time.
“The boys performed on a huge stage as underdogs against Liverpool, but we deserved to win that game and we’re hoping we can do the same.”
Cup holders Arsenal finished third in the Premier League, 14 places above Villa, and beat them twice, by 3-0 and 5-0, before Sherwood took over.
“Arsenal are probably the best footballing team in the league,” he said. “They are a top, top football team. They’ve got players that can win a game on their own.
“I have a lot of respect for (manager) Arsene Wenger. He sticks to his philosophy. I know exactly how he’ll play.”
Sherwood said he intends to counter Arsenal’s close-passing style by attacking them in an attempt to earn Villa the cup for the first time since 1957.
“We intend to take the game to them. The boys know they can make history. Someone can be a hero. It’s an opportunity for everyone to write the history books again.”
Veteran goalkeeper Shay Given, who missed the final league match of the season last weekend, is back in training and could be fit for the final, Sherwood added.
FA Cup FACT BOX
Arsenal will be taking part in a record 19th FA Cup final and will be hoping to become the all-time record winners with a 12th success. They currently share both the appearance record and the number of wins with Manchester United.
* Arsenal will become only the fourth club to lift the FA Cup in successive years twice if they win on Saturday.
The Wanderers were the first to do so in 1872 and 1873 and again in 1876, 1877 and 1888. Blackburn Rovers won in 1884, 1885 and 1886 and again in 1890 and 1891.
Tottenham Hotspur won in 1961 and 1962 and then won successive Cups for a second time in 1981 and 1982. Arsenal won in 2002 and 2003 and are looking for a second double after beating Hull City last year.
* Arsenal are seeking to equal Manchester United’s record of nine wins at Wembley. old and new. Their previous wins at Wembley were in 1930, 1936, 1950, 1971, 1979, 1993, 1998 and 2014. Their win over Hull last year was their eighth at Wembley, and their first in the new stadium. Their victories in 2002, 2003 and 2005 were in Cardiff.
* Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will become the most successful FA Cup winning manager of the modern era if Arsenal are successful with a sixth win, one more than former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson.
George Ramsay was the manager/secretary of Aston Villa and oversaw their six FA Cup wins between 1887 and 1920 before the modern notion of a manager was established.
* Aston Villa had won the FA Cup six times before Arsenal won their first in 1930, and when Villa set the then-record of seven wins in 1957 when they won the cup for the last time, Arsenal had only won the FA Cup three times.
Arsenal have won the FA Cup eight times since Villa’s last success 58 years ago.
* Aston Villa, like Arsenal, can boast of winning the FA Cup and League double. Villa completed the feat in 1897 while Arsenal have done the double three times in 1971, 1998 and 2002.
* Villa Park has staged more FA Cup semi-finals than any other ground, hosting 55 of them including replays before the semis were switched to Wembley in 2008.
* Since the FA Cup began in 1871-72 there have only been five previous occasions when clubs whose names begin with the same letter have met in the final. They were:
1881: Old Carthusians v Old Etonians; 1902: Sheffield United v Southampton; 1953 Blackpool v Bolton Wanderers; 1965 Liverpool v Leeds United and 2004 Manchester United v Millwall.