Jake Livermore will be a popular man at parent club Tottenham Hotspur if Hull City can extend Arsenal’s trophyless run to 10 years tomorrow at Wembley. Richard Sutcliffe reports.
LAST month’s Premier League visit to the KC Stadium by Arsenal was billed in some quarter as a dress rehearsal for the FA Cup final.
Those of a Hull City persuasion will, of course, be hoping it proves to be nothing of the sort after the Gunners claimed a 3-0 win that began a five-match winning run that Arsene Wenger’s men closed the season with en route to clinching qualification for the Champions League.
The scoreline looks comfortable. Those either at the game or watching on Sky TV, however, know that the Londoners did not have it all their own way with the Tigers being the better side in the first half despite going in at the break two goals down.
And it is that impressive showing in the opening 45 minutes on April 20 against Arsenal that midfielder Jake Livermore insists proves that City can spring a shock tomorrow.
He said: “We showed against Arsenal in the league that we can cause them problems. The first half, in particular, we did well.
“I think we are a good side. People might have written us off before the season but I think they all know now that we deserved to stay in the division.
“The Premier League is all about fine lines and, to me, the game at the KC was all about finishing. They finished and we didn’t.
“Arsenal’s front three were fantastic. For most of the game, we kept them quiet but they showed their class. You have to look after great players like that all the game round. Nothing else will do.
“That is a lesson we have to take into the final. But I also think that if we can attack like we did in the league match then we have a real chance.”
The Wembley final will be the final game of Livermore’s loan stay in Yorkshire.
The Tottenham Hotspur player has been a big hit and Steve Bruce has made it plain several times that he wants to make the deal permanent this summer.
Livermore himself is keen to secure a permanent move, though admits the final say lies with Spurs and whoever is in charge.
So, for now, his sole focus remains on Hull City’s quest to lift the Cup for the first time.
The central midfield man believes that the experience of playing at Wembley against Sheffield United in the semi-final will stand the Tigers in good stead.
Livermore continued: “The semi-final was great. It is always a thrill to play at Wembley, no matter what the occasion.
“I thought Sheffield United played really well. They really gave us a hard time in the first half, when we never really got going.
“But, after half-time, the manager tweaked a few things and we started to play. Once we were performing how we wanted, we played really well.
“That second half was much more like what we are about. Sheffield United didn’t really have any answer and it was great to hear the final whistle, knowing we were through to the Cup final.
“I think having played there as a team already, it will help us in the final. We will know exactly what is involved with playing a big game there.
“A few of the lads had played at Wembley but, as a team, we now know all about the place. It really is a great place. You can’t play there too many times.
“Wembley is the pinnacle of a player’s career. It has an aura all of its own. You pull up on the team coach and there is the arch in front of you.”
In an attempt to try and retain the aura of a final, any tie in the last four of the Cup played at the national stadium has none of the pomp and ceremony normally associated with English football’s showpiece occasion.
There is no communal singalong, no introduction to whatever Royal can be persuaded to attend and, of course, no trophy at the final whistle.
Tomorrow will, of course, be very different and Livermore admits the occasion will be one for all the Hull City players to cherish.
“I have also been part of a semi-final at Wembley before with Tottenham but not a final,” he said.
“So, this is something to look forward to.
“I was in the crowd when Spurs won the League Cup and even that is different to playing a semi-final.
“There is more of a build-up and the day is that bit busier. I really enjoyed the day and it is going to be great to finally be part of a final.
“It is every schoolboy’s dream and the lads just can’t wait for the day to come round.”