2014 FA Cup Final

The 2014 FA Cup Final was the 133rd final of the FA Cup, the world's oldest football cup competition. The match was contested between Arsenal and Hull City at Wembley Stadium on 17 May 2014. Hull City made their first appearance in an FA Cup Final, while Arsenal equalled Manchester United's record of 18 final appearances. It was the first time since 2010 that the FA Cup Final had taken place after the end of the Premier League season.[2]

Each club needed to win five matches to reach the final. Arsenal beat three of their divisional rivals and needed penalties to defeat cup holders Wigan Athletic. By contrast, four of Hull City's opponents were from the lower divisions; they played one replay in the fifth round against Brighton & Hove Albion.

The match was won by Arsenal, a joint-record 11th Cup, after extra time. Hull scored with two goals in the opening ten minutes from James Chester and Curtis Davies, but Arsenal came back with goals from Santi Cazorla and Laurent Koscielny to level the match by the end of regulation time. Aaron Ramsey scored the winner 11 minutes from the end of extra time.

As Arsenal qualified for the Champions League by their league position, Hull City entered the 2014–15 UEFA Europa League at the third qualifying round;[3] however, due to a change in UEFA rules, this was the last season the runners-up would enter the Europa League if the winners had already qualified for European competition.[4]

2014 FA Cup Final
2014 FA Cup Final Programme
The match programme cover
Event2013–14 FA Cup
Arsenal Hull City
3 2
After extra time
Date17 May 2014
VenueWembley Stadium, London
Man of the MatchAaron Ramsey (Arsenal)
RefereeLee Probert (Wiltshire)
Attendance89,345
WeatherPartly, mostly cloudy
22 °C (72 °F)[1]

Route to the final

The FA Cup is English football's primary cup competition. It was first held in 1871–72 with only 15 teams entering;[5] the growth of the sport and changes to the competition's structure meant by 2013–14, 373 teams took part.[6] If a match is drawn, a replay comes into force, ordinarily at the ground of the team who were away for the first game.[7]

Arsenal

Round Opposition Score
3rd Tottenham Hotspur (H) 2–0
4th Coventry City (H) 4–0
5th Liverpool (H) 2–1
6th Everton (H) 4–1
SF Wigan Athletic (N) 1–1 (aet)
2–4 (P)
Key: (H) = Home venue; (A) = Away venue; (N) = Neutral venue.
Podolski scores, 2014 FA Cup 4th rd, Arsenal vs Coventry
Arsenal players celebrating Lukas Podolski's goal against Coventry City.

As both Arsenal and Hull City were Premier League clubs, they entered the competition in the third round. Arsenal's cup run started with a home tie against their north London rivals, Tottenham Hotspur. Goals from Santi Cazorla and Tomáš Rosický either side of half time meant Arsenal won 2–0; the match was marred by a long-term injury to winger Theo Walcott.[8][9] In the fourth round, the team was drawn against Coventry City of Football League One, at the Emirates Stadium. Arsenal won 4–0, on a night where Henry Winter noted: "All of the fans were united in laughter when some of the floodlights went out, following a power surge."[10]

For the fifth round, Arsenal was drawn against Liverpool at home.[11] Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain opened the scoring within the first 15 minutes, before Podolski doubled their lead. Steven Gerrard scored a penalty just before the hour mark, making the final score 2–1.

In the sixth round, Arsenal was again at home and welcomed Everton. They won the match 4–1, with three of the goals coming in the final 10 minutes of the game.[12] In their semi-final at Wembley Stadium, Arsenal was drawn with FA Cup holders Wigan Athletic. The match finished 1–1 after extra time, with a late Per Mertesacker equaliser making up for the penalty he conceded, which had been scored by Jordi Gómez to give Wigan the lead. Arsenal progressed to the final after winning 4–2 in a penalty shoot-out, in which Łukasz Fabiański saved two penalties and Arsenal scored all of their penalty kicks including the winner from Cazorla.[13] In doing so, Arsenal matched their achievement in the 1949-50 FA Cup where they reached the final without leaving London.[14]

Hull City

Round Opposition Score
3rd Middlesbrough (A) 2–0
4th Southend United (A) 2–0
5th
Replay
Brighton & Hove Albion (A)
Brighton & Hove Albion (H)
1–1
2–1
6th Sunderland (H) 3–0
SF Sheffield United (N) 5–3
Key: (H) = Home venue; (A) = Away venue; (N) = Neutral venue.

Hull City was drawn away to Middlesbrough and made nine changes to the team that played their previous match. A goal apiece from Aaron McLean and Nick Proschwitz ensured a 2–0 win.[15] Matty Fryatt scored both goals in Hull's fourth round victory against Southend United of Football League Two.[16]

In the next round, Hull were paired with Football League Championship team Brighton & Hove Albion. Striker Leonardo Ulloa gave Brighton a first half lead, but Hull's Yannick Sagbo levelled the score with five minutes of the match remaining.[17] As there were no further goals, the tie was replayed at the KC Stadium, which Hull won 2–1.[18]

Hull's opponent in the sixth round was Sunderland. Three second half goals by Curtis Davies, David Meyler and Fryatt led Hull to a 3–0 win – a "richly deserved" victory said journalist Luke Edwards writing for The Daily Telegraph.[19] The club therefore reached its first FA Cup semi-final since 1930.[20] In the last four of the competition, Hull beat Sheffield United, by five goals to three. Jose Baxter gave Sheffield United the lead in the 19th minute; although Sagbo equalised for Hull, Stefan Scougall's goal just before half time meant Sheffield United restored their lead. The second half consisted of five goals produced from both sides, four of which scored by Hull.[21]

Pre-match

Arsenal appeared in an FA Cup final for the eighteenth time to equal the appearance record set by Manchester United. The record for the number of wins by a single club was also matched after Arsenal's win, with Manchester United winning the cup on 11 separate occasions and Arsenal having 10 prior victories (1930, 1936, 1950, 1971, 1979, 1993, 1998, 2002, 2003 and 2005). Hull City, however, made their first appearance in an FA Cup Final since the club was founded in 1904.[22]

Arsenal wore their traditional red and white home kit for the final and used the home team dressing room, while their fans were allocated the West End of the stadium. Hull City fans occupied the East End and the team played in their amber and black home kit.[23]

Ticket prices for the final started at £45 and were available at £65, £85 and £115, with a £10 discount for concessions, as ticket prices remained the same from the previous FA Cup final. Both clubs, Arsenal and Hull City, were allocated 25,000 tickets, with approximately 20,000 tickets being distributed to volunteers "through the football family" which included counties, leagues, local clubs and charities.[24]

The traditional pre-match anthem, "Abide with Me", and the national anthem were performed by The X Factor winner Leona Lewis, accompanied by the Band of the Welsh Guards.[25]

Match

Team selection

Arsenal were without long-term injured attackers Theo Walcott and Serge Gnabry, while captain Thomas Vermaelen and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain faced late fitness tests.[26] While Vermaelen made the bench, Oxlade-Chamberlain missed the final.[27]

Hull strike partnership Shane Long and Nikica Jelavić were cup-tied, having appeared earlier in the tournament for West Bromwich Albion and Everton respectively.[28] Paul McShane, James Chester, Sone Aluko and Robbie Brady faced fitness tests for Hull, who saw the return of goalkeeper Allan McGregor from a kidney injury.[26]

Summary

First half

FA Cup Final 2014 01
Arsenal enjoyed 65% of possession during the course of the match.

Hull kicked off the 133rd FA Cup Final and dominated possession for the opening stages. Barely four minutes into the game, Hull won a corner that was crossed in by Stephen Quinn to find Tom Huddlestone on the edge of the penalty area; Huddlestone tried a volley that went into the path of James Chester, who tapped it in from close range to give Hull City an early lead. The high tempo with which Hull started the game overwhelmed Arsenal, and four minutes after the first goal, they scored again. Ahmed Elmohamady received a free kick and crossed it in to the penalty area. This caused controversy as Arsenal believed he had taken the free kick several yards in front of where the foul was committed. Nevertheless, the ball was picked up on the far edge of the penalty area by Quinn, who got past Aaron Ramsey and crossed it in to the goalmouth, where it was headed towards goal by centre-back Alex Bruce. Arsenal goalkeeper Łukasz Fabiański parried it out to Hull captain and fellow centre-back Curtis Davies, who fired the ball into the far bottom corner of the goal. Hull almost scored a third goal moments later, when a header from Bruce was headed off the goal line by Arsenal's Kieran Gibbs. Instead, it was Arsenal who scored the next goal; in the 16th minute, they won a free kick on the edge of the Hull penalty area, which Santi Cazorla fired over the Hull wall and into the top corner of the goal. For the rest of the first half, chances were scarce and Hull maintained their lead into the half-time interval.

Second half

At the start of the second half, Arsenal came out on top, constantly pressing for an equaliser. They were denied two penalties by referee Lee Probert before they finally got an equaliser in the 71st minute, with centre-back Laurent Koscielny bundling a header from Bacary Sagna over the line following a corner. Many believed that a goal kick should have been given instead of a corner as it appeared that substitute Yaya Sanogo got the last touch. In the 79th minute, Gibbs had a chance to put Arsenal in front when he had just goalkeeper Allan McGregor to beat, but he could not hit the target, shooting high of the goal. Arsenal had another chance for a winning goal in injury time, but Olivier Giroud's shot was saved by McGregor.

Extra time

Arsenal looked like the better team for most of extra time, creating lots of chances. Giroud hit the crossbar after five minutes and Ramsey fired a number of low shots at goal, forcing saves from McGregor. Four minutes into the second half of extra time, Arsenal took the lead via a low shot from Ramsey to the near corner following a back-heeled pass by Giroud. With four minutes of the game left, Hull had a chance to equalise when Sone Aluko took advantage of a Per Mertesacker slip, went round the onrushing Fabiański, and fired a shot across the Arsenal penalty area from a very tight angle, only for it to go inches wide. Three minutes later, Aluko had another chance when he shot at the corner only for it to be saved just in time by Fabiański. Arsenal had a chance to extend their lead at the tail end of stoppage time when Tomáš Rosický had his low effort cleared off the line by Paul McShane.[29] Ten seconds later, Probert blew for full-time with the score at Arsenal 3–2 Hull City, giving Arsenal their first trophy in nine years since beating Manchester United on penalties in the 2005 FA Cup Final.

Details

Arsenal3–2 (a.e.t.)Hull City
Cazorla Goal 17'
Koscielny Goal 71'
Ramsey Goal 109'
Report Chester Goal 4'
Davies Goal 8'
Arsenal
Hull City
GK 21 Poland Łukasz Fabiański
RB 3 France Bacary Sagna
CB 4 Germany Per Mertesacker
CB 6 France Laurent Koscielny
LB 28 England Kieran Gibbs
CM 8 Spain Mikel Arteta (c)
CM 16 Wales Aaron Ramsey
RW 19 Spain Santi Cazorla Substituted off 106'
AM 11 Germany Mesut Özil Substituted off 106'
LW 9 Germany Lukas Podolski Substituted off 61'
CF 12 France Olivier Giroud Yellow card 85'
Substitutes:
GK 1 Poland Wojciech Szczęsny
DF 5 Belgium Thomas Vermaelen
DF 17 Spain Nacho Monreal
MF 7 Czech Republic Tomáš Rosický Substituted in 106'
MF 10 England Jack Wilshere Substituted in 106'
MF 20 France Mathieu Flamini
FW 22 France Yaya Sanogo Substituted in 61'
Manager:
France Arsène Wenger
Allan McGregorCurtis DaviesAlex BruceJames ChesterAhmed ElmohamadyLiam RoseniorJake LivermoreTom HuddlestoneDavid MeylerStephen QuinnMatty FryattŁukasz FabiańskiBacary SagnaPer MertesackerLaurent KoscielnyKieran GibbsMikel ArtetaAaron RamseySanti CazorlaMesut ÖzilLukas PodolskiOlivier GiroudArsenal vs Hull City 2014-05-17.svg
GK 1 Scotland Allan McGregor
RWB 27 Egypt Ahmed Elmohamady
CB 6 England Curtis Davies (c) Yellow card 86'
CB 4 Northern Ireland Alex Bruce Substituted off 67'
CB 5 Wales James Chester
LWB 2 England Liam Rosenior Substituted off 102'
CM 14 England Jake Livermore
CM 8 England Tom Huddlestone Yellow card 60'
CM 7 Republic of Ireland David Meyler Yellow card 70'
AM 29 Republic of Ireland Stephen Quinn Substituted off 75'
CF 12 England Matty Fryatt
Substitutes:
GK 22 England Steve Harper
DF 3 Honduras Maynor Figueroa
DF 15 Republic of Ireland Paul McShane Substituted in 67'
MF 10 Slovenia Robert Koren
MF 17 Scotland George Boyd Substituted in 102'
FW 20 Ivory Coast Yannick Sagbo
FW 24 Nigeria Sone Aluko Substituted in 75'
Manager:
England Steve Bruce

Man of the match

Match officials

Match rules

  • 90 minutes.
  • 30 minutes of extra-time if necessary.
  • Penalty shoot-out if scores still level.
  • Seven named substitutes.
  • Maximum of three substitutions.

Statistics

Statistic[31] Arsenal Hull City
Total shots 26 12
Shots on target 7 4
Ball possession 65% 35%
Corner kicks 7 3
Fouls 17 18
Offsides 4 0
Yellow cards 1 3
Red cards 0 0

Post-match

Arsenal FA Cup Victory Parade 2014 012
Arsenal players during the open top bus parade.

A new version of the FA Cup trophy was cast to be presented, for the first time, to the winners of the 2014 final. Heavier than the previous two versions of the cup it is made of 925 Sterling Silver. It stands 61.5 centimetres (24.2 in) high and weighs 6.3 kilograms (13 lb 14 oz). Commissioned in 2013, it replaces a cup first presented to Liverpool in the 1992 FA Cup Final, and is the third version of the trophy. The base of the old trophy containing the names of winners is retained.[32] The trophy was presented by FA President Prince William, Duke of Cambridge.

Having won the cup, Arsenal paraded the trophy from an open top bus on 18 May, from the Emirates Stadium to Islington Town Hall on Upper Street in north London.[33]

The match was broadcast live in the United Kingdom by both ITV and BT Sport. ITV provided the free-to-air coverage and BT Sport 1 was the pay-TV alternative. ITV held the majority of the viewership – a peak audience of 10.1 million viewers (52.1% viewing share) watched at 7:30 p.m. The ratings were up on last year's final, which peaked at 9.4 million (42%).[34] BT Sport’s coverage averaged 250,000 viewers (1.8%). Coverage of the final began on ITV at 3 p.m. and averaged 5.4 million (50%).[34]

Two weeks after the final, Arsenal Ladies won the 2014 FA Women's Cup by beating Everton Ladies, giving the club a rare FA Cup double.

References

  1. ^ "History for London, United Kingdom". Weather Underground. Retrieved 18 May 2014.
  2. ^ Shergold, Adam (18 June 2013). "FA Cup final 2014 to be played after Premier League season finishes". Daily Mail. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  3. ^ "Who qualifies to play in Europe?". Premier League. 10 September 2013. Archived from the original on 7 September 2012. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  4. ^ "Strategic talks in Dubrovnik". Union of European Football Associations. 20 September 2013. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  5. ^ "The History of The FA Cup". The Football Association. Retrieved 22 November 2016.
  6. ^ "The FA Cup draws". The Football Association. 5 July 2013. Retrieved 20 July 2014.
  7. ^ "Rules of The FA Cup Challenge Cup" (PDF). The Football Association. Retrieved 20 July 2014.
  8. ^ McNulty, Phil (4 January 2014). "Arsenal 2–0 Tottenham Hotspur". BBC Sport. BBC. Retrieved 13 April 2014.
  9. ^ "Theo Walcott: Arsenal forward out of World Cup with knee injury". BBC Sport. BBC. 6 January 2014. Retrieved 13 April 2014.
  10. ^ Winter, Henry (24 January 2014). "Arsenal 4 Coventry City 0: match report". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 2 July 2014.
  11. ^ Jurejko, Jonathan (16 February 2014). "Arsenal 2–1 Liverpool". BBC Sport. BBC. Retrieved 13 April 2014.
  12. ^ McNulty, Phil (8 March 2014). "Arsenal 4–1 Everton". BBC Sport. BBC. Retrieved 13 April 2014.
  13. ^ McNulty, Phil (12 April 2014). "Wigan Athletic 1–1 Arsenal (aet, 2–4 on pens)". BBC Sport. BBC. Retrieved 13 April 2014.
  14. ^ Motson, John (2005). Motson's FA Cup Odyssey: The World's Greatest Knockout Competition. Robson. p. 139. ISBN 1861059035.
  15. ^ "Middlesbrough 0–2 Hull City". BBC Sport. BBC. 4 January 2014. Retrieved 13 April 2014.
  16. ^ "Southend United 0–2 Hull City". BBC Sport. BBC. 25 January 2014. Retrieved 13 April 2014.
  17. ^ Henson, Mike (17 February 2014). "Brighton & Hove Albion 1–1 Hull City". BBC Sport. BBC. Archived from the original on 17 February 2014. Retrieved 13 April 2014.
  18. ^ Begley, Emlyn (24 February 2014). "Hull City 2–1 Brighton & Hove Albion". BBC Sport. BBC. Retrieved 13 April 2014.
  19. ^ Edwards, Luke (9 March 2014). "Hull City 3 Sunderland 0: match report". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 2 July 2014.
  20. ^ Reddy, Luke (9 March 2014). "Hull City 3–0 Sunderland". BBC Sport. BBC. Retrieved 13 April 2014.
  21. ^ "Hull City 5–3 Sheffield United". BBC Sport. BBC. 13 April 2014. Retrieved 13 April 2014.
  22. ^ "Cup Final Results". The Football Association. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
  23. ^ "Information for fans going to Wembley". Arsenal F.C. 13 May 2014. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
  24. ^ "FA Cup Final ticket prices and allocations announced". The Football Association. 14 April 2014. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
  25. ^ "Leona Lewis to sing National Anthem at FA Cup Final". The Football Association. 13 May 2014. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
  26. ^ a b "Arsenal v Hull". BBC Sport. 16 May 2014. Retrieved 16 May 2014.
  27. ^ "Arséne Wenger savours FA Cup win over Hull as Arsenal end drought". Guardian. 18 May 2014. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
  28. ^ "FA Cup final 2014, Arsenal v Hull City: as it happened". Daily Telegraph. 18 May 2014. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
  29. ^ Wilson, Paul (17 May 2014). "Arsenal 3–2 Hull City (aet) – FA Cup final match report". the Guardian.
  30. ^ a b c d e "Lee Probert to take charge of The FA Cup Final at Wembley". The Football Association. 16 April 2014. Retrieved 21 April 2014.
  31. ^ "Arsenal 3–2 Hull City". BBC. 17 May 2014. Retrieved 17 May 2014.
  32. ^ Wilson, Bill (15 May 2014). "FA Cup reborn for 2014 final as new trophy is cast". BBC News. Retrieved 16 May 2014.
  33. ^ "Thousands line the street for Arsenal's victory parade". BBC News. 18 May 2014. Retrieved 19 May 2014.
  34. ^ a b Kanter, Jake (21 May 2014). "Arsenal's FA Cup win hits 10m peak". Broadcast. London. Retrieved 19 May 2014.

External links

2014–15 Tottenham Hotspur F.C. season

The 2014–15 season was Tottenham Hotspur's 23rd season in the Premier League and 37th successive season in the top division of the English football league system.

The campaign represented Tottenham's 13th appearance in the UEFA Europa League, entering the Play-off round due to the result of the 2014 FA Cup Final, as a result of finishing sixth in the 2013–14 Premier League season.

Aaron Ramsey

Aaron James Ramsey (born 26 December 1990) is a Welsh professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for Premier League club Arsenal and the Wales national team. Ramsey mainly plays as a box-to-box midfielder, but has also been deployed on the left and right wings. He played as a schoolboy for Cardiff City, where he spent eight years in youth football, became the club's youngest ever first team player, and made 28 appearances (including loan spell) for the senior team – including the 2008 FA Cup Final.

Ramsey moved to Arsenal in 2008 in a £5 million deal, where he quickly gained first-team experience. However, his career stalled significantly after he suffered a broken leg in a match against Stoke City in February 2010. After two loan spells away from Arsenal, he returned to full fitness and re-established himself as a regular starter during the 2011–12 season. Ramsey was a key player for Arsenal in the 2013–14 season campaign, scoring 16 goals in all competitions, including the winner in the 2014 FA Cup Final against Hull City. He also played in the 2015 FA Cup Final, which Arsenal won, and scored a second FA Cup winning goal in 2017. He will join Juventus on 1 July 2019 after having signed a pre-contractual agreement.

Ramsey made his full international debut for Wales in 2008 and was part of their UEFA Euro 2016 campaign, where he helped his nation to the semi-finals and was included in the Team of the Tournament. He also represented Great Britain at the 2012 Olympics.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Alexander Mark David Oxlade-Chamberlain (born 15 August 1993) is an English professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for Premier League club Liverpool and the England national team.

After rising to prominence with Southampton during the 2010–11 season aged 17, he signed for Arsenal in August 2011. Scoring twice in his first three matches for the club, Oxlade-Chamberlain became the youngest English goalscorer in UEFA Champions League history and also claimed a regular place in the England under-21 team. Over his six seasons at the Emirates Stadium, he played 198 games and scored 20 goals, winning the FA Cup three times. He signed for Liverpool in August 2017.

Oxlade-Chamberlain made his debut for the senior England team on 26 May 2012 in a 1–0 win against Norway in a friendly. Following this, he received a surprise call-up to the England squad for UEFA Euro 2012, becoming the second youngest player ever to represent England in the European Championships behind Wayne Rooney. He was also called up for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Bacary Sagna

Bacary Sagna (French pronunciation: ​[bakaʁi saɲa]); born 14 February 1983) is a French professional footballer who currently plays for Major League Soccer club Montreal Impact. He has mainly played in the Premier League, and also for the France national team. His former manager at Arsenal, Arsène Wenger, once described him as the best right back in the Premier League. In addition to him regularly featuring as a wing-back, Sagna played as a centre back for Arsenal on several occasions.He began his career at Auxerre, before transferring to Arsenal for £7 million in 2007. In 2014, shortly after winning the FA Cup, his first trophy at the club, he made a move to Manchester City.

A full international since 2007, he was selected by France for two FIFA World Cup tournaments and one UEFA European Championship.

David Meyler

David John Meyler (born 29 May 1989) is an Irish professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for League One club Coventry City, on loan from Reading, and the Republic of Ireland national team.

After turning professional at League of Ireland team Cork City, Meyler moved to Sunderland in the Premier League in 2008. He joined Hull in January 2013 after a short loan spell. He has been a full international for the Republic of Ireland since 2012.

Hull City A.F.C. in European football

Hull City Association Football Club is an English football club based in Kingston upon Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire. The club was founded in 1904 and has competed in the English football league system since 1905. Their first major European campaign was the UEFA Europa League in 2014–15. The club also entered the Anglo-Italian Cup and the Anglo-Scottish Cup.

Jade Bailey (footballer)

Jade Helen Bailey (born 11 November 1995) is an English footballer who plays for Reading, on loan from Chelsea. She is a former England youth international. She was involved in the final stages of the 2012 Summer Olympics torch relay.

Kieran Gibbs

Kieran James Ricardo Gibbs (born 26 September 1989) is an English professional footballer who plays as a left back for Championship club West Bromwich Albion and the English national team.

Gibbs began his senior career with Arsenal in 2007, after joining the club from the Wimbledon academy in 2004. He began as a winger and moved to left back after a loan spell with Norwich City during the same 2007–08 season where he made his Arsenal debut. He made his full England debut in a friendly against Hungary at Wembley Stadium on 11 August 2010.

Laurent Koscielny

Laurent Koscielny (French pronunciation: ​[loʁɑ̃ kosjɛlni, lɔ-]; Polish: Kościelny, pronounced [kɔˈɕtɕɛlnɨ]; born 10 September 1985) is a French professional footballer who plays as a centre back for Premier League club Arsenal, where he is club captain.

Born in Tulle, Koscielny began his football career playing for a host of youth clubs before moving to Guingamp in 2003, where he quickly progressed through the youth ranks, making his professional debut the following season. After becoming frustrated at being played out of position as a right back, he joined Tours for an undisclosed fee, quickly establishing himself as the team's star player in his desired position, ultimately aiding in the club's promotion into Ligue 1, while also being named in the Ligue 2 Team of the Season. Koscielny continued his impressive performances following a €1.7 million transfer to fellow French outfit Lorient in 2009, receiving multiple plaudits for his performances, largely cultivating a reputation as a clever, agile, ball-playing defender. His achievements and footballing potential attracted Arsenal, ultimately moving to the Premier League side for a fee of £8.45 million the following season.

Following his arrival in England, Koscielny was regarded to be one of the best players in his position, as well as one of the best in the world. He had established himself as a core component in the Arsenal first team, as well as contributing with a host of individual performances, including aiding in ending the club's nine-year trophy drought, scoring a crucial equalizer en route to winning the FA Cup in 2014. He was also crucial in further club successes that followed, winning another FA Cup and the FA Community Shield twice.

Despite qualifying to represent Poland, Koscielny instead decided to represent France, and first appeared up for the national team against Brazil in February 2011. Koscielny has since become a regular starter for the nation in every major tournament that they have appeared in, including UEFA Euro 2012 and the 2014 FIFA World Cup, while also leading France to the final of UEFA Euro 2016, which they lost to Portugal. He scored his first international goal in a friendly match against Scotland in 2016, and amassed fifty-one appearances for the national side. He retired from international football in 2018.

Maynor Figueroa

Maynor Alexis Figueroa Róchez (born 2 May 1983) is a Honduran professional footballer who plays as a centre back or left back for the Houston Dynamo in MLS. He currently plays for the Honduras national football team, where he serves as captain. He spent most of his career at Wigan Athletic, where he made 179 Premier League appearances and won the 2013 FA Cup. Figueroa has made over 100 international appearances since 2003, including at three CONCACAF Gold Cups, two FIFA World Cups and the 2012 Olympics.

Per Mertesacker

Per Mertesacker (German pronunciation: [ˈpeːɐ̯ ˈmɛɐ̯təsʔakɐ]; born 29 September 1984) is a German youth football coach and former player who is the current manager of the Arsenal Academy.

Mertesacker began his senior career after being promoted from the youth ranks at Bundesliga club Hannover 96, making his senior league debut as a central defender in November 2003. He was soon dubbed "the Defence Pole" ("die Abwehrlatte") by German tabloids, and gained a reputation for his exceptional disciplinary record, going 31 league games without being booked. After various standout performances at Hannover, as well as starring for the Germany national team at the 2006 FIFA World Cup at age 21, he transferred after 74 league matches for 96 to fellow Bundesliga outfit Werder Bremen, for a fee of €5 million later that summer. His tenure at the club was characterized for his ability to read play and stifle the build-up play to opposition attacks, establishing himself as a defender with a quiet-but-effective game, and a core-component of the Bremen team that won the 2009 DFB-Pokal, and finished as runner-up in the 2009 UEFA Cup.

After being singled out for praise for his performances at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, and with his contract at Bremen dwindling, he transferred to Premier League club Arsenal a year later, for a fee of £8 million. At Arsenal, Mertesacker quickly established himself as the first-choice central defender for the club, becoming a mainstay despite sharing several defensive partners over his first two seasons. He eventually built up a solid relationship with fellow defender Laurent Koscielny, and the duo would star as Arsenal ended their nine-year trophy drought by winning the 2014 FA Cup. He would later captain and score for the side in their retention of the trophy a year later, before becoming the club's outright captain in 2016. He would again star in his third victory of the trophy in 2017. However, injuries derailed the latter stages of his career at Arsenal, and was used sparingly during his final two seasons, being forced to retire in 2018.

At national level, Mertesacker played for Germany at the under-20 and under-21 levels, prior to debuting for the senior side in 2004 against Iran. Upon his debut, Mertesacker established himself as Germany's first choice centre-back for ten years, participating in UEFA European Championship in 2008 and 2012, as well as the 2006, 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cups, winning the latter. He would retire from international competition following this win.Mertesacker has developed other ventures, including the "Per Mertesacker Stiftung", a charitable foundation that helps support amateur sportsmen, and the poor. He would transition into coaching following his retirement, taking charge of the Arsenal Academy.

Robbie Brady

Robert Brady (born 14 January 1992) is an Irish professional footballer who plays as a winger and a left-back for Premier League club Burnley and the Republic of Ireland national team.

Brady began his career in the Manchester United academy. However, after featuring just once for United's first team, he joined Hull City initially on loan and then permanently in 2013. He made 124 appearances for the Tigers, helping them reach the 2014 FA Cup Final. In July 2015, he joined Norwich City for £7 million where he suffered relegation to the Championship with the club in 2016. He returned to the Premier League where he became Burnley's record signing in January 2017 when he completed a transfer for a fee reported to be around £13 million.

Brady has represented Ireland at all youth levels. After becoming their highest under-21 scorer of all time with seven goals, Brady made his senior international debut against Oman in 2012, scoring and setting up two more goals in a 4–1 victory. He has earned over 40 caps for his country and represented them at UEFA Euro 2016, scoring two goals during the tournament.

Santi Cazorla

Santiago "Santi" Cazorla González (Spanish pronunciation: [sanˈtjaɣo ˈsanti kaˈθoɾla ɣonˈθaleθ]; born 13 December 1984) is a Spanish professional footballer who plays for La Liga club Villarreal and the Spanish national team. Cazorla operates primarily as an attacking midfielder, but can also play as a winger, central midfielder or as a deep-lying playmaker.

Cazorla began his professional career at Villarreal in 2003 after impressing as a youngster with his hometown club, Real Oviedo. He continued his development at Villarreal before a short spell at partner club, Recreativo de Huelva. After becoming the club's standout player in the 2006–07 La Liga season, contributing to their top-ten finish and being awarded Spanish Footballer of the Year, Cazorla returned to Villarreal for €1.2 million the following season. He then firmly established himself as a key contributor to the side, regularly being named in the La Liga Team of the Season. In 2011, following five fruitful seasons on the Spanish coast, he moved to fellow La Liga side Málaga in a club-record €21 million deal, where he gained a reputation for his speed, shooting accuracy, capacity to change the rhythm of gameplay, and excellent close control.After the 2011–12 season, coupled with Málaga's perilous financial situation, he moved to Premier League side Arsenal for a fee of £10 million, where he became a core component to the team in his first year at the club, registering thirteen assists, after which he was voted Arsenal Player of the Season, as well as becoming ranked one of the best footballers in Europe by Bloomberg. Cazorla was also integral in ending the club's nine-year trophy drought, scoring a crucial free-kick en route to winning the FA Cup in 2014. Injuries plagued his latter years in England, and his six-year association with Arsenal ended in 2018. He then returned to Villarreal for a third spell.

Cazorla made his senior debut for Spain in a victory against Peru in May 2008, and was a semi-regular participant in the nation's triumphs at UEFA Euro 2008 and Euro 2012, as well as featuring at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. He scored his first international goal in a friendly match against Chile, and has amassed seventy-seven appearances and fourteen goals for the national side.

Stephen Quinn

Stephen Quinn (born 1 April 1986) is an Irish professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for Burton Albion. He has also represented the Republic of Ireland national team.

He started his career with League of Ireland club St Patrick's Athletic before moving to Sheffield United in 2005. Quinn made over 200 appearances for the Blades, being their player of the season in 2011 and being in the Football League One PFA Team of the Year 2011–12. In 2012, he moved to Hull City and was a part of the team that won promotion back to the Premier League. Quinn also started the 2014 FA Cup Final against Arsenal. He is known for his set piece taking.

Steve Bennett (referee)

Stephen Graham Bennett (born 17 January 1961 in Farnborough, Kent) is a former English football referee who operated in the Premier League, and previously for FIFA as an assistant referee and then referee.

Steve Bruce

Stephen Roger Bruce (born 31 December 1960) is an English professional football manager and former player who played as a centre-back. He is the manager of Championship club Sheffield Wednesday. Born in Corbridge, Northumberland, he was a promising schoolboy footballer but was rejected by several professional clubs. He was on the verge of quitting the game altogether when he was offered a trial with Gillingham. Bruce was offered an apprenticeship and went on to play more than 200 games for the club before joining Norwich City in 1984, winning the League Cup in 1985.

In 1987, he moved to Manchester United, with whom he achieved great success, winning twelve trophies including three Premier League titles, three FA Cups, one League Cup and the European Cup Winners' Cup. He also became the first English player of the 20th century to captain a team to the Double. Despite his success on the field, he was never selected to play for the England national team. Commentators and contemporaries have described him as one of the best English players of the 1980s and 1990s never to play for his country at full international level.

Bruce began his managerial career with Sheffield United, and spent short periods of time managing Huddersfield Town, Wigan Athletic and Crystal Palace before joining Birmingham City in 2001. He twice led Birmingham to promotion to the Premier League during his tenure of nearly six years, but resigned in 2007 to begin a second spell as manager of Wigan. At the end of the 2008–09 season he resigned to take over as manager of Sunderland, a post he held until he was dismissed in November 2011. Seven months later, he was appointed manager of Hull City and led the club to two promotions to the Premier League, as well as the 2014 FA Cup Final, before leaving in July 2016. He took over at Aston Villa four months later but was dismissed in October 2018. He took over as manager of Sheffield Wednesday in February 2019.

Tom Huddlestone

Thomas Andrew Huddlestone (born 28 December 1986) is an English professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for Championship club Derby County.

Having progressed through the youth ranks at Nottingham Forest and Derby County, Huddlestone began his professional career in 2003 with the latter club. He quickly broke into the first team, and made 88 league appearances before switching to Tottenham Hotspur in 2005. Having spent some of the 2005–06 season on loan to Wolverhampton Wanderers, where he made 13 league appearances, he began to break into the Tottenham team during the 2006–07 season, and became a regular player for the club. However, he struggled with injury problems during the 2011–12 season, and fell out of favour. He joined Hull City in August 2013, having made 144 league appearances for Tottenham.

Huddlestone represented England at under-16, under-17, under-19 and under-20 levels before making his under-21 debut in 2005. He was a regular for the under-21 team between 2005 and 2009, and made 33 appearances. He made senior full England debut in 2009, and has since gone on to make three further appearances.

Tomáš Rosický

Tomáš Rosický (Czech pronunciation: [ˈtomaːʃ ˈrosɪtskiː]; born 4 October 1980) is a Czech former professional footballer who was the captain of the Czech Republic national team for a ten-year period. He played club football for Sparta Prague, Borussia Dortmund and Arsenal. He was nicknamed "the little Mozart" for his ability to "orchestrate" the midfield.

He started his professional career at his hometown club Sparta Prague, playing three seasons in the Czech First League before moving to Borussia Dortmund in 2001 for DM 25 million (approximately £8 million), at the time a record transfer fee paid by a Bundesliga club. In his first season in Germany, he helped his team win the league title and reach the 2002 UEFA Cup Final. Rosický joined Arsenal in 2006, and made 247 appearances for the club, including appearing in their victory in the 2014 FA Cup Final. He spent a total of ten seasons in the Premier League, affected by several long-term injuries.

Internationally, Rosický made his debut for the Czech Republic in 2000 and became captain of his country in 2006. He has taken part in four UEFA European Championships as well as the 2006 FIFA World Cup. He earned his 100th cap on 12 June 2015. Rosický is the Czech Republic's fourth highest goalscorer of all time.

Łukasz Fabiański

Łukasz Fabiański (Polish pronunciation: [ˈwukaʂ faˈbʲaɲskʲi] (listen); born 18 April 1985) is a Polish professional footballer who plays as a goalkeeper for English Premier League club West Ham United and the Poland national team.

Having begun his career at Legia Warsaw, Fabiański joined Arsenal for £2.1 million in 2007, and was mainly used as back-up, but played as the club won the 2014 FA Cup Final. On the expiration of his contract in 2014, he joined Swansea.

A full international for Poland since 2006, Fabiański has represented his country on over 40 occasions and was included in the squads for the 2006 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2008. He played every match for Poland at Euro 2016 after the first group match with Northern Ireland due to first-choice goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny's injury.

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