Tim Sherwood is bidding the become only the second English manager since 1995 to lift the FA Cup.
In that year it was Joe Royle’s “Dogs of War” who were cast as underdogs but beat Manchester United who had just begun their era of dominance with a 1-0 win the goal scored by Paul Rideout.
Since then only Harry Redknapp has got his hands on the grand old trophy when his Portsmouth side beat Cardiff 1-0 in 2008.
John Gregory had a chance in 2000 but by his own admission the then Villa boss was too cautious in his approach and was beaten 1-0 by Chelsea with Roberto di Matteo getting the only goal.
Given his character Sherwood is likely to “give it a go” but would settle for a dour 1-0 win as he sets out to make his mark in management, Villa having last won the trophy way back in 1957 when they beat Manchester United 2-1.
William Hill offer a generous looking 6/1 for an Aston Villa win with Arsenal 4/7 with 1-0 to the Villa 20/1.
Christian Benteke – who could end up as a Gunner next season if as seems likely he is sold by Villa this summer – is 8-1 with Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud favourite at 6/1.
(More odds below)
Ahead of their meeting in the FA Cup Final, BOBBY remembers two great games between The Villa and The Arsenal from the same year, 24 years ago;
Arsenal 5-0 Aston Villa, April 3rd 1991, FL Division One
Arsenal were two points ahead of Liverpool at the top of the First Division table and with a game in hand on the Reds as they welcomed struggling Aston Villa to Highbury in April 1991. Villa’s task was daunting – the Gunners had only lost two games all season in all competitions (to United in the League Cup and to Chelsea in the League) although a defeat to Spurs int he FA Cup would soon follow. Action is below (lookout for a cameo between the sticks from Dave Platt) Brian Moore is the commentator.
ARSENAL: David Seaman, Lee Dixon, Steve Bould, Tony Adams, Nigel Winterburn, David Hillier, Paul Davis, Paul Merson, Anders Limpar, Kevin Campbell, Alan Smith – Subs; Perry Groves for Merson, Michael Thomas for Hillier
ASTON VILLA: Nigel Spink, Chris Price, Andy Comyn, Derek Mountfield, Paul McGrath, Kevin Gage, Gordon Cowans, David Platt, Gary Penrice, Ian Ormondroyd, Tony Cascarino – Sub; Mark Blake for Nigel Spink
Aston Villa 3-1 Arsenal, August 24th, 1991, FL Division One
THIS was a sweet victory for Ron Atkinson’s team – and it came against the reigning League Champions, who had lost only once during the whole 1990-91 campaign.
Villa had won one and drawn one of their opening two League matches under Ron Atkinson – and were keen to make amends for a midweek home defeat at the hands of Big Ron’s old club, Manchester United – this after having won away against Atkinson’s previous side, Sheffield Wednesday, on the first Saturday of the League season.
Atkinson sprang a surprise before the kick-off against the Gunners by including 18-year-old former West Bromwich Albion defender Ugo Ehiogu for his first full game of his career, and also in the side a fit-again Tony Daley, who had figured in only three games since February.
In front of a near-30,000 crowd, the match was played at a cracking pace in a cup-tie atmosphere.
ASTON VILLA: Nigel Spink, Steve Staunton, Ugo Ehiogu, Shaun Teale, Paul McGrath, Gordon Cowans, Paul Mortimer, Kevin Richardson, Cyrille Regis, Tony Daley – Subs; Chris Price for Staunton, Dwight Yorke for Penrice
ARSENAL: David Seaman, Lee Dixon, Tony Adams, Andy Linighan, David O’Leary, Nigel Winterburn, Paul Davis, Paul Merson, David Rocastle, Anders Limpar, Alan Smith – Subs; Michael Thomas for Rocastle, Perry Groves for O’Leary
THE CUP FINAL ODDS
Arsenal 4/17 Draw 3/1 Aston Villa 6/1
Arsenal to come from behind to win: 7/1, Villa 18/1.
Villa to lead at half-time and fail to win: 10/1
Arsenal 3-1 Aston Villa: 12/1
Arsenal 2-2 Aston Villa: 18/1
Arsenal 1-2 Aston Villa: 18/1
Alexis Sanchez to score first goal: 4/1
Agbonlahor to score first goal: 9/1
Match to go to penalties: 11/2
Odds courtesy of William Hill