Is Arsenal vs. Hull City the end of civilisation as we know it?
The West Antarctic ice sheet is melting! Soon all will perish amid sea level rises too big for even Bruce Willis to stop, seemingly rendering the result of Arsenal’s crunch Community Shield qualifier against Hull City irrelevant on the grand scale of things.
This is of course false. Had the world paid more attention to football in the first place, none of this would have happened. Mankind’s greatest error was to put their faith in hockey stick graphs rather than transfer gossip columns about the landmark transfers of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, or something. Heat maps could have saved us all if only we’d listened.
Still, there is some hope that a few emaciated survivors may be able to scrape together an existence during the coming Armageddon out somehow. The FA Cup stands as a testament to humanity’s ability to cling on within a post-apocalyptic landscape.
Arsenal – 1.24
Arsenal to win in 90 minutes – 1.44
Hull City – 4.00
Hull to win in 90 minutes – 6.80
(All odds provided by GR88.com are accurate as of today and subject to change)
Having once been the jewel of the English football calendar, cup final day has slipped into becoming a desperate struggle for recognition in the arid wastes between the Premier League finale and the Champions League final. Manchester United used to be the great Satan, who fatally undermined this institution with a transcontinental lust for silverware, but with Atletico Madrid and Barcelona’s La Liga decider currently threatening to steal away viewing figures, the problem seems bigger than a fixture clash.
Similar to the rules of the Thunderdome from Mad Max 3, at Wembley two teams will enter, but only one shall leave. In contrast to the movie’s blood sport however, it’s the loser that gets to walk away, with the victors instead set to be called back for a sound beating at the hands of Manchester City some August.
Even the supposed grand prize of a shot at the Europa League feels like a demoted consolation offering. Steve Bruce’s side have already been informed that they’ll be heading off to face the likes of FC Luch-Energiya Vladivostok (wow – turns out that’s actually a real team – ed.) whatever the result against Arsenal thanks to the Gunners’ Champions League qualification via the top four. In that respect, the FA Cup final is left looking more like a passing out ceremony for this season’s press ganged, sacrificial offering to UEFA’s secondary tier, rather than a prestigious bounty. A season scrabbling across Europe to take part in the competition formerly known as the UEFA Cup could even send Hull out of the Premier League next year. If you thought Cormac McCarthy’s The Road was a terrifying and depressing read, don’t spend to long mulling over the death by glory inflicted upon clubs forced into competitions they have neither the squad nor resources to properly fight.
Then again, while the heat death of the FA Cup may be stretching out the public’s attention spans and will-to-watch, as if expiring through the footballing entropy of the game’s own laws of thermodynamics, perhaps this year might be different?
For once, it’s not just the plucky minnows who are striving for an unlikely trophy win. Arsenal would do well to check that Patrick Vieira didn’t thrown down a Bela Guttmann-esque curse on the club when he left in 2005. Arsene Wenger’s team haven’t won a proper pot or title since.
With their status as this year’s Liverpool, before Liverpool too—having let slip a commanding lead in the title race rather than a cataclysmic and very literal one for Demba Ba to shatter their dreams—the likes of Aaron Ramsey will be keen to ensure something tangible comes through from a season that promised so much However, Hull need only look back to Birmingham City’s League Cup win over the Gunners to see how their last appearance in a final that was billed as a relative formality turned out.
Unfortunately for Bruce’s challengers, his two star strikers—Shane Long and Nikica Jelavic—are cup-tied for the final, but as any fan of disaster cinema will tell you, being outnumbered and outgunned is all a protagonist needs to escape the rapture. Even John Cusack did as much in that one where the Buddhist monk climbed to the top of Everest only to be swept away by a giant tidal wave. It had planes taking off in earthquakes and a big aircraft carrier thing he had to throw his kids onto at the end. High Fidelity was it? Who knows.
Regardless, the fate of the FA Cup could well depend on who can discover their inner Cusack. Sone Aluko or Olivier Giroud. It’s got to be Arsenal, right? Right?
Betting Instinct tip – Arsenal to win 2-1 after a spirited Hull performance is 7.60 with GR88.com.
GREG JOHNSON (gregianjohnson) is a freelance football writer based in London and contributor to FourFourTwo, Squawka, Drowned In Sound and Mirror Football. He also co-edits The False Nine football blog and podcast. Follow him on Twitter or Google+.