Aston Villa take on holders Arsenal in Saturday’s FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium, with Tim Sherwood’s men looking to upset the odds after eliminating Liverpool in the semi-finals.
Here, AFP Sports looks at the players bidding to take the cup to Villa Park for the first time in almost 70 years.
1. Brad Guzan (USA)
Should cup goalkeeper Shay Given fail to recover from injury, 30-year-old Guzan will be ready to step in, having been number-one choice during the club’s rocky Premier League campaign.
31. Shay Given (IRE)
The 39-year-old has been a mainstay of Villa’s cup run, playing in every round, but faces a battle to be fit for Wembley after injuring his groin in training.
2. Nathan Baker (ENG)
The young Englishman looked certain to miss the final after picking up a knee injury in Villa’s shock 2-1 semi-final win against Liverpool, but has fought back to fitness and is expected to start.
4. Ron Vlaar (NED)
A cult hero among the Villa fans, ‘Roncrete’ shone during the Netherlands’ run to the World Cup semi-finals last year, but Saturday could be the 30-year-old’s last game for the club, with his contract running out in the close season.
6. Jores Okore (DEN)
The centre-back is suffering from a long-term knee problem and has been rested after a dip in form in order to be in contention for the final.
7. Leandro Bacuna (NED)
The midfielder-turned-right-back has provided five assists in his last 10 games, but is not guaranteed a final spot due to question marks over his defensive qualities.
21. Alan Hutton (SCO)
The combative Scotsman is vying with Bacuna for the full-back role, and could get the nod if manager Tim Sherwood opts for a stronger defensive line-up.
8. Tom Cleverly (ENG)
Made a scapegoat for Manchester United’s troubles under David Moyes last season, the 25-year-old England international has enjoyed a new lease of life since his loan move to Villa Park, scoring two vital goals this month to help the club secure Premier League survival.
12. Joe Cole (ENG)
The former Chelsea and Liverpool midfielder, 33, joined last year after a second spell at his formative club West Ham United, but he has barely featured this season.
15. Ashley Westwood (ENG)
The 25-year-old midfielder’s Villa future looked in doubt when Sherwood took over in February, but he has impressed with a series of hard-working displays after deputising for the suspended Carlos Sanchez.
16. Fabien Delph (ENG)
The club’s player of the season has established himself as an England regular and his smart finish proved to be the difference in last month’s semi-final.
24. Carlos Sanchez (COL)
Signed last year for a fee believed to be over £4.5 million ($6.9 million, 6.4 million euros), the Colombian international has had a difficult first season and is now struggling to regain his place from Westwood.
28. Charles N’Zogbia (FRA)
The rapid winger started Villa’s last game of the league season, a 1-0 defeat at home to Burnley, at left-back, with first-choice Aly Cissokho ruled out through injury, but is much more at home running at defenders in the final third.
40. Jack Grealish (IRE)
The hottest young property in Villa’s ranks dazzled at Wembley during the semi-final and the 19-year-old attacking midfielder is currently the centre of a tug-of-war between England and the Republic of Ireland over his international future.
9. Scott Sinclair (ENG)
The wide forward made an instant impact after joining on loan from Manchester City in January and it was announced on May 19 that he had signed a four-year deal to stay at Villa Park.
10. Andreas Weimann (AUT)
The lively Austrian forward has scored four times this season, including the winner against Bournemouth in the fourth round of the FA Cup.
11. Gabriel Agbonlahor (ENG)
A product of the club’s youth academy, the strong, speedy striker made his Villa debut in 2006 and has since made over 300 appearances, scoring 73 times.
20. Christian Benteke (BEL)
The main man up front for Villa, the powerful Belgian striker will pose a threat of genuine international calibre to Arsenal’s defence, having scored almost one goal every other game since joining the club in 2012.
Tim Sherwood (ENG)
Sherwood has won over Villa’s fans since succeeding the sacked Paul Lambert, helping the club secure Premier League survival and orchestrating memorable cup wins over local rivals West Bromwich Albion and Liverpool.
As a player, Sherwood captained Blackburn Rovers to Premier League glory in 1995 before moving into coaching as an assistant to Harry Redknapp at Tottenham Hotspur.
After taking over as Spurs manager in December 2013, he helped blood young talent such as Harry Kane and Ryan Mason, but was sacked this time last year after less than six months at the helm.
Photo Credits : AFP