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Arsenal’s nervy semi-final means Hull must be backed for FA Cup

| 14.04.2014

No matter how much of a positive spin Arsene Wenger puts on his side booking an FA Cup final place, the manner in which his side did it will do nothing to change the narrative in the showpiece clash with Hull.

For much of the semi-final against Wigan, Arsenal’s nervousness was etched all over the Frenchman’s face.

His players, despite having all of the ball, couldn’t find a way through a Wigan side who were holding firm. After Jordi Gomez put the Championship side ahead from the spot, the turmoil of enduring yet another trophy-less season engulfed every Arsenal associate in Wembley.

The fans got on Wenger’s back as he replaced Lukas Podolski, not Yaya Sanogo, with Olivier Giroud. The player himself showed an air of dissent as he trudged off.

After Per Mertesacker’s equaliser with eight minutes remaining and Santi Cazorla’s winning penalty, the reaction of the Gunners showed just how pressurised ending their barren silverware spell is.

For that reason, the 12/5 about Hull prolonging Arsenal’s agony (and possibly ending Wenger’s north London career) is a bet to nothing.

Steve Bruce’s side, who booked their return trip to Wembley with a 5-3 win over Sheffield United, have absolutely nothing to lose in facing the Gunners in the final.

They can turn up and play without a care in the world, safe in the knowledge that the longer they keep Arsenal at bay, the more and more tense their opponents will become.

Birmingham showed in 2011 how to play on both the Gunners’ emotions and their hesitancy in finals and with the pang for a trophy now three years further fermented, the pressure can be Arsenal’s downfall whether Hull outperform them or not.

Arsenal may have won the last five times these sides have met, but no match has mattered as much as their next clash and it could well be that that’s the one they lose.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.