at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Per Mertesacker delivered a defiant FA Cup final message last night, claiming Arsenal are ready to end nine years of disappointment and become winners again.
Arsenal have not won a trophy since 2005 but the German centre half believes victory against Hull City at Wembley today can be the launch pad to glory for Arsene Wenger’s team.
‘It would be a big step,’ said Mertesacker. ‘We have been through a lot of difficulties. We were top of the league, then we dropped points and then came back to fourth position. We have won five consecutive games and we want to continue.
‘That is important. It looks like we are back on track. We have to keep our focus. We think we can
achieve something with this group. There is more belief. Eight players have extended their contracts and the manager is likely to do that as well.
‘We are stronger than when I came. The core is all together and this has changed the confidence.’
Hull manager Steve Bruce has challenged his players to write their names in club folklore and make it a decade of pain for Arsenal.
‘I know from experience, the Cup final is like a blur, so my message to the players will be to make sure they savour it,’ said Bruce. ‘Make sure you play a full part. It’s not a nice memory if you don’t.
‘Can you be a hero? Can you go down in Hull’s history as the team that beat Arsenal in the Cup final? That’s what I’ll be challenging them to do.’
Tom Huddlestone, the Hull midfielder, agreed: ‘This is a massive week in our careers and the history of this club but we know we’ve got a job to do.’
Sources close to Arsenal keeper Lukasz Fabianski say he is confident of starting in the final.
The Pole, second choice behind Wojciech Szczesny for league games, has played in all Arsenal’s FA Cup matches this season.– Daily Mail