How does the current Arsenal side compare to the 2005 FA Cup-winning team?
Arsenal face their best opportunity on Saturday to end their nine-year trophy drought when they take on Hull City in the FA Cup final, but they do so without a recognised player in Arsene Wenger’s probable likely starting XI who has won any silverware with the Gunners.
In fact, nearly half of them haven’t won a trophy at all at club level, and they will be desperate to record a victory to finally get the burden of notoriously falling short off their shoulders and prevent their unwanted streak stretching into a tenth year.
The last time the Gunners won a trophy, their squad was packed full of experienced, successful squad members, with many coming off the ‘Invincibles’ season to defeat Manchester United in the 2005 FA Cup final via a penalty shoot-out.
Names such as Ashley Cole, Patrick Vieira, Robert Pires and Dennis Bergkamp started that day, and faced an onslaught from a United side that was left frustrated and in despair at how they managed to lose the Wembley showcase given their far superior performance.
But how does Wenger’s current FA Cup final (predicted) starting XI rank with the one he selected on 20 May, 2005?
Jens Lehmann - 2005
Lehmann had established himself as the No 1 at Arsenal following the departure of David Seaman, and managed to keep Ruud van Nistlerooy, Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo at bay on the day. His penalty save from Paul Scholes’ spot-kick proved to be the pivotal point in the match.
Wojciech Szczesny - 2014
Arsenal’s current regular goalkeeper hasn’t played a minute of FA Cup football this season due to Wenger’s preference to play Lukasz Fabianski in the cups. But the allure of his first trophy in nine years will likely tempt Wenger to start with his Number One, and he has shown a ruthless selection policy in the past when he dropped Richard Wright for David Seaman for the 2003 FA Cup final.
Lauren - 2005
Decided the best way to stop Cristiano Ronaldo was to kick him out of the game, but despite picking up a booking in the 62nd minute, managed to last the game without picking up a second yellow.
Bacary Sagna - 2014
Is likely to be playing in his final game for the Gunners as his contract expires at the end of the season and a move to Manchester City looks on the cards. His exit is all the more surprising given that Sagna has enjoyed one of his strongest seasons in the red and white of Arsenal.
Kolo Toure - 2005
Ivorian defender was nearly the victim of a handball penalty shout when Paul Scholes struck a long ball into his body and up on his hand.
Philippe Senderos - 2005
Picked ahead of England international and first-team regular Sol Campbell due to his impressive form while the latter was injured. Gave away a goal-scoring opportunity when he brought down Wayne Rooney on the stroke of half-time, but his free-kick went over the bar.
Per Mertesacker - 2014
The German has made up for his lack of pace with his clear leadership skills and excellent positioning. Can still be caught out occasionally, although the absence of the cup-tied Shane Long will benefit the centre-back.
Laurent Koscielny - 2014
Has established himself alongside Mertesacker, meaning that captain Thomas Vermaelen will probably be left on the bench once again. His pace compliments the wit of Mertesacker, but while he has an eye for a goal, he also tends to experience a lapse in concentration every now and then.
Ashley Cole - 2005
Playing in his fourth FA Cup final and was the only Arsenal defender to take a penalty in the shoot-out, which he converted.
Kieran Gibbs - 2014
Arsenal’s defence is considerably stronger when Gibbs is available (and not being incorrectly being sent-off) and he looks to be over the worst of his injury troubles. Has not got anywhere near the levels that Ashley Cole was showing in 2005 though, but at 24 still has plenty of time to recover.
Jose Antonio Reyes - 2005
Made a strong start having been selected ahead of Freddie Ljungberg, but faded as the game went on and picked up his first yellow card for a needless foul on Mikael Silvestre in the 76th minute. Received his final warning when he fouled the same man, and was given his marching orders in the final minute of extra-time for taking down Cristiano Ronaldo, becoming just the second man to be sent-off in an FA Cup final.
Cesc Fabregas - 2005
Had a quiet game after he was selected to start having turned 18 just a fortnight before. Replaced by Robin van Persie late on in normal time, and few thought at the time that the pair would go on to both captain the Gunners.
Gilberto Silva - 2005
Did exactly what defined his Arsenal career in doing a lot of the under-praised, defensive duties in midfield, although that day at Wembley he was besieged with a United onslaught. Fully deserved his winners’ medal on the day.
Patrick Vieira - 2005
Captained the side for the final time, and picked up a booking as had become expected for scything down Cristiano Ronaldo. Would go on to hit the winning penalty in the shootout and lift the FA Cup to mark a fairy tale ending to his Arsenal career, and remains the last Arsenal player to lift a trophy for the Gunners.
Robert Pires - 2005
The Frenchman had a quiet game mainly due to Arsenal’s long spells on the back foot, although he did fashion one chance for himself only to strike the ball over the bar. Was replaced at half-time in extra-time by Edu.
Mikel Arteta - 2014
Has taken on the armband in Vermaelen’s absence, and while he doesn’t get on the score-sheet often bar the odd penalty, he does a lot of the unheralded work in a similar fashion to Gilberto Silva.
Santi Cazorla - 2014
His ability to perform the sublime is blighted by large chunks of play when he is anonymous, and his defensive abilities rank among the lowest in the side. That said, he is in the starting XI for his creative talent which he has in abundance, with a touch that most professional players would die for.
Aaron Ramsey - 2014
His form this season has been nothing short of sublime, which says a lot about Arsenal’s cup-run that they reached the semi-finals without him due to injury. His return couldn’t be a bigger boost for Arsenal though, and expect his to drive forward form the heart of midfield in search of more goals this season.
Mesut Ozil - 2014
Has come in for questioning this season that for £42.5m, perhaps he should have had a bibber impact on Arsenal’s season. But ask any Arsenal fan in regular attendance at the Emirates and they’ll tell you just how good he is, not to mention what he opens up for his team-mates. The spectacle of an FA Cup final could be exactly what the doctor ordered.
Lukas Podolski - 2014
Lukas Podolski celebrates one of his taHas been inconsistent during his time with Arsenal but has enjoyed a string of games in which he has demonstrated just how good he is at finishing in front of goal. Give him a chance and nine times out of 10 he will bury it in the back of the net.wo goals in Arsenal's win over Hull
Dennis Bergkamp - 2005
Spearheaded a 4-5-1 formation due to the injury-enforced absence of Thierry Henry. His age was starting to show though, and he was replaced midway through the second half by Freddie Ljungberg as Arsene Wenger attempted to stem the flow of United attacks.
Olivier Giroud - 2014
Should he have delivered more goals this season? The Frenchman regularly pops up with a goal in the low-key games, but fails to push on to score a brace or hat-trick. 16 times Giroud has scored a goal, going on to double his tally just three times, while he has not scored a hat-trick this season. Could that change at Wembley?