Why Aston Villa will believe they can beat Arsenal in the FA Cup final

The last month of Premier League results will have given nothing but confidence to Aston Villa, while Arsenal will have added cause for concern.

When the draws for the FA Cup Semi final were made in March, few people would have given Aston Villa much of a chance of winning the competition.

Faced with a semi against Liverpool before they could even dream of a final appearance, they then looked across to the other fixture to see cup favourites Arsenal left with an, on paper, simple match against Reading.

But things have changed in recent weeks, and Aston Villa now have every reason to think they can beat the Gunners and win their first FA Cup since 1957.

For a start, they have a manager in charge in Tim Sherwood who has turned the disappointing performances the players were putting in under Paul Lambert into breathtaking ones. 

Aston Villa's last five games have seen them win against Tottenham, a side Arsenal couldn't beat in two fixtures this season, before suffering an unlucky defeat at Manchester City, as well as victories over Everton and West Ham, and of course the superb result against Liverpool at Wembley that got Sherwood's side to the final.

But it isn't just Villa's form which should be giving them cause for optimism - opponents in the final Arsenal have gone from being a club in the middle of a superb winning run in the league, to a side that has failed to win their last two home games.

Arsenal's five matches have seen them drop points in the draw with Chelsea, understandable considering the Blues are Premier League champions, as well as a defeat to Swansea at the Emirates that will have hurt Arsene Wenger, and may start raising some doubts in the player's minds that wins over Burnley and Hull will not be able to dismiss. The Gunners had their own struggles in the semi-final as well, needing extra time and a goalkeeping error to beat Reading, a side that finished 19th in the Championship. 

The last time the two clubs met, it was early February and Arsenal beat Villa 5-0. It's unlikely to be such a walk in the park for Wenger and his players this time round.

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