Thanks to Alex Carson who writes for 7500toholte.sbnation.com for taking the time out to answer some questions on the today's cup match.
1) Before we get onto Villa, how are you feeling ahead of the game? Nerves? Confidence?
A bit of everything, really. Obviously, you’re gonna be nervous ahead of the game, and there’s a part of me that’s afraid Villa’ll get whacked 4-0 or something. But at the same time, I’m pretty confident they’ll put in a good performance. That said, I won't be turning to my bet365 account on this one.
2) What has Tim Sherwood done to change Villa's fortunes around?
Above all else, he’s just taken the reigns off the squad. Villa were dull, negative, and just looking to hold possession (though doing nothing with it) under Paul Lambert, and he’s completely flipped that around, which was exactly what the club needed; there’s not a lack of attacking talent here. He also brought Jack Grealish properly into the first team, which has been huge.
3) I was very, very impressed by your performance in the semi final against Liverpool. Where would you rank that performance this season?
Probably our best performance of the year. From pretty much start to finish, Villa controlled the majority of play in that game. It was on the heels of a win at Spurs; recapturing that form would be key.
4) Who has been your player of the season and why?
Christian Benteke, I think, has to be the choice here with his recent goalscoring, but Fabian Delph also deserves a shot. He signed a four-year deal in January (when he could have left tomorrow) to stay with the club, which was a huge boost.
5) Who has not performed as you may have expected and why?
Ron Vlaar. Definitely. Came off one of the best World Cups anyone had and hasn’t recaptured the form. He single handedly cost us a couple games down the stretch, which could have been key.
6) Onto the big game. Who is likely to cause Arsenal the most amount of problems?
It’s gotta be Benteke, though he won’t mean anything if he isn’t linking with his teammates. Jack Grealish is a pesky player who could cause some problems as well, but don’t expect him to do it all on his own.
7) Which Arsenal players worry you and why?
Is it alright if I say all of them? As I’ll allude to below, Villa have employed a high defensive line under Sherwood, and I’ve had nightmares of Arsenal’s forwards and midfielders just punishing the club for it. If I had to hone in on one player though, I’d have to go with Theo Walcott. His pace makes him a real threat to get in behind our defense on goal.
8) How do you see Villa approaching the game? Sitting back and hitting on the break or attacking us the way you attacked Liverpool?
Attacking, which is noble, but could be Villa’s downfall. That high defensive line I mentioned earlier is what did Lambert’s Villa in during those 3-0 and 5-0 defeats, and I’m afraid it’ll happen again. He may very well try to win this game 3-2.
9) Any other thoughts?
Really looking forward to it. Winning the Cup would mean so much for the club right now — hell, just getting there is huge — but there’s also a realization it’s going to take a massive performance to get it done. Best of luck to your lads.