Only a few hours to go folks, so a brief round up of player comments to help fill the time.
Speaking to the Official Site ahead of the game, Gabby Agbonlahor said that it was vitally important that Villa played the game and not the occasion when we face Arsenal in the FA Cup Final later today.
‘If the stadium held 200,000 I think Villa could have filled it. Everyone will be watching worldwide. As a fan myself it’s exciting to be involved. To get a chance to play at Wembley and make history for the club and the fans is exciting. We want to do this for them after a frustrating few seasons and it’s up to us to try and get some success here.’
Gabby went on to say that he still has to ‘pinch’ himself because he never thought as a kid he’d actually ever play in a Final like this.
‘I’ve got a chance on Saturday so it’s exciting. I’ve learnt you have to treat it like another game. You can’t let the occasion get to you. If you look at the young players who played in the semi-final no one was fazed. The whole squad has worked hard to get to a cup final and everyone needs to enjoy it. As long as everyone works hard and tries their best, hopefully we can get the result. As a team you have to stay strong and treat it as another game and follow the tactics and instructions from the manager.’
With plenty of focus on Jack Grealish ahead of the game, Gabby went on to say about our young starlet.
‘For me, he’s probably the best player I’ve ever trained with. That’s my opinion. Off the pitch he’s a good lad too. He’s willing to learn. He’s a nice guy, he’s a Brummie as well. He drifts past players in a way I’ve never seen before so that’s a good sign for Villa fans. He’ll get better and better. If you ask a lot of the players they’ll say the same. When I saw him on pre-season in America I was quite shocked at how good he was. The way he was drifting past players caught the eye. It’s what the fans want to see. I’m sure he’ll have a top career.’
Moving onto Okore, he went on to say in his own interview that the players want to reward the ‘amazing’ fans with a good performance and win because he knows there’s been a lot of disappointed this season and in more recent year so lifting the Cup would be a great way of drawing the line under that and hopefully showing there’s good reason to be hopeful of a brighter future ahead.
‘I am really excited for the FA Cup final. It is one of the biggest stages you will ever see in your whole career so I’m really looking forward to be given the opportunity to be involved in a final with the boys. The semi-final was my first experience of Wembley. It was great to be out there and be part of the squad there. To see the atmosphere that day was amazing. The fans were awesome. I was so impressed. They are always loud but they were definitely louder than normal at Wembley. I think it was the excitement at being there for the game and then at the final whistle it was the joy of winning and getting to the final. We could feel them. They were absolutely on it throughout the game – and after it too. We were on it as a team also. We all gave a good performance – on the pitch and in the stands!’
He went on to say it was a ‘special feeling’ to see the supporters so happy on the day and that’s exactly how he wants to see them again at the final whistle later today, because he knows their support and noise will be as good as ever.
‘We’re excited at the possibility of winning the trophy for those fans. It’s been a long wait for the FA Cup. We go there to play for ourselves, our families, the club and definitely for the fans. We want to give them plenty to cheer about. We are desperate to do the job.’
As for the season and securing our Premier League place he went on to add that everyone in the camp was pleased by that, but now we have a real success to fight for.
‘We don’t think about the league now. We survived that. We’re relieved to have done that. Now it’s all about the final. For many of us, it will be the biggest game of our careers. We want to go out there and leave nothing on the pitch. We’re determined to do our best and give 100% to get the win. We’re ready.’
As for opponents Arsenal.
‘Arsenal are a very, very good team. It will be a tough game. They keep the ball well, move the ball well and have very accomplished forwards. They play good offensive football. We have to be strong. We believe we can do it. The gaffer is rooting for us. He believes we can win. That gives us even more energy. The way he is – his positivity – has definitely helped us. It has shown with our performances and results out on the pitch.’
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