If there is one downside to the FA Cup final coming as the marquee event at the end of the English football season it is the fact that both teams are likely to be battered by long Premier League campaigns. For Aston Villa, in particular, it means that an injury plague that hit the club all season had time to subside and then raise its ugly head again. Arsenal, luckily for them, have not had quite as many issues.
For Villa the biggest issues come in the back line. Between Ron Vlaar, Ciaran Clark, Jores Okore, Nathan Baker, and Philippe Senderos, they have five players who could all comfortably start in the Premier League. While fans may have preferences of one over the other, it's hard to say that using any combo of those five would be a disaster. Since Villa usually use two centre backs, that should be plenty of depth. Unfortuantely, Senderos and Clark are definitely out for this match. Okore could play, but he has gone a full season on a knee that's just coming back from a ruptured ACL and is apparently a major doubt for Saturday.
Elsewhere, Villa have issues at left back, where first choice Aly Cissokho hasn't been heard from in ages. Kieran Richardson, who was deputised in Cissokho's absence, missed the last two matches with injury but has been practicing this week. If he's healthy enough to play, he gets the nod at the position because the alternatives of Alan Hutton or Charles N'Zogbia are terrible. Shay Given has been Villa's keeper throughout their run to the final, but he faces a late fitness test due to a groin issue. Luckily for Villa, first-choice keeper Brad Guzan is a perfectly palatable option in goal.
Arsenal have fewer crises to contend with, but that doesn't mean they're injury free. Striker Danny Welbeck will definitely miss this match with a knee injury. Winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and right back Mathieu Debuchy are both available for the match but aren't fully match-fit.
With all of that in mind, here's how we see the teams lining up at kick-off.
Aston Villa (4-3-2-1): Brad Guzan; Leandro Bacuna, Nathan Baker, Ron Vlaar, Kieran Richardson; Ashley Westwood, Fabian Delph, Tom Cleverley; Charles N'Zogbia, Jack Grealish; Chrsitian Benteke
Arsenal (4-3-3): Wojciech Szczesny; Hector Bellerin, Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal; Francis Coquelin, Santi Cazorla, Mesut Özil; Alexis Sánchez, Olivier Giroud, Aaron Ramsey
Throughout the FA Cup final week, we're raising money for the Villa Rockets Powerchair Football club. With your help we can reach £5,000 and get them a new powerchair! Read about the club and our effort here, or simply click here to donate and help us reach our goal! And remember, if you donate any amount, you can enter to win a free Fabian Delph t-shirt from The Art of Football!