On Saturday, North London took on the West Midlands as Arsenal faced Aston Villa in the FA Cup final at Wembley. Arsenal won for the second year running.
Captain Morgan marked the sporting event with a rare treat for unsuspecting football fans whose drinks were poured by two ex-footballers at The Globe pub: Villa's Andy Townsend and Arsenal legend David Seaman. The two surprised the bar staff, as well as the locals, by taking over their morning shift to join in with the pre-match festivities.
We sat down with the former goalkeeper (who has four FA Cup trophies under his belt) who shared his expertise on Arsenal's current form, Wenger as manager and his result predictions.
Are you looking forward to today's Captain Morgan event?
Yes, it will be good fun. It's a great idea – going down into London, going into the pub, serving drinks, working for tips. It’s one of the pub's busiest days [The Globe] so I’m really looking forward to it. I'm excited for the look on the Arsenal fan's faces.
What are your predictions for the match?
An Arsenal win. It’s all about winning – it’s not how you play. Having experience of thrashing Liverpool 85 minutes in and then still being on the losing team is proof enough that it’s not about playing well. Even if it’s a boring 1-0, take it. It’s a winner’s medal. Luckily, I’ve got 4 of them.
Do you think Arsenal’s performance today will shape people’s views on their season just gone?
The result will. I don’t think the performance will change anything because the Arsenal fans have seen how we can play; we know that if we play our A-game, we will beat Villa. It’s as simple as that. Having been at the cup final last year against Hull and being 2-0 down after 8 minutes – and then almost going 3-0 – it's like “Hey, don’t take us there again, lads!”
Arsenal should be in control of the game – but it’s a cup final. I know they were there last year, and so have a lot of experience, but it can work the other way for Villa going into the unknown; a lot of their players have never been there. The actual cup final day itself is so enjoyable – even more so if you win it.
So would you say it’s anyone’s game?
It is, but people will be backing Arsenal as favourites. I think it will be closer than people think. I’ve just heard John Gregory say that Villa don’t know how to defend – all they know is how to attack. It sounds like it’s going to be a great game.
Who has been Arsenal's hero of the past season?
It’s Sanchez. He’s been fantastic. Every performance: the work rate; the enthusiasm; and his quality – it's been great to watch. He's a proper player. It's great that Arsenal have signed a player who's the finished article; he's got it all. We’re not waiting to develop him – we’ve signed him and he’s shown his qualities from the start.
Who would you say Arsène Wenger's got his eye on for the coming season?
Lots, but whether he’ll get them is a totally different thing. Personally, I would look to be strengthening the defence and trying to get a midfield player along the Patrick Vieira and Yaya Touré mould that just sits in there – big, strong and powerful. Coquelin’s had a fantastic season which is a surprise – people didn’t expect him to be that good; he’s come in and done a fantastic job. If he gets injured, we’re lacking that kind of player.
Do you think Walcott's hat-trick last week has solidified his start tomorrow?
It’s certainly pushed his claim for a place. What’s pleasing about Theo is that it looks like he’s over his injury which can take a long time to get out of. I saw him at the training ground and he looks so much stronger. Even his upper body's much fitter. It’d be nice for him to start. But, you know, Giroud or Theo – that’s a great choice to have.
Do you reckon Giroud's sticking around?
I hope so. He's a quality player and a lot of pur play goes through him, especially when he holds it up. It’s such a valuable asset for a team when a defender has time to get the ball up; it's not like they're knocking it up to somebody who's not controlling it correctly. With Giroud, he's great at holding the ball and then bringing everyone else into play. Long may that continue, because he’s a great asset to the club.
Which goalkeepers have taken your eye this season?
Courtois – by a mile. De Gea has done remarkably well too; after the start he had at Manchester United, he could have crumbled, but he didn't – he believed in himself and showed everyone what he’s capable of. People now know why United signed him. Some of the saves he's been making are unbelievable. How long that remains, we’ll have to wait and see. But yeah, Courtois’ been the one for me. He’s a big guy and he takes a lot of crosses while making it look easy. Trust me, in a modern day with a modern ball, it’s not as easy as he makes it look.
How long can you see Wenger sticking around at Arsenal?
Forever. Until he can’t possibly make it to the training ground anymore. He’s a quality coach. I tell people to be careful what they wish for when they say its time to get him out. When you work with him, you realise how good he is. What he's done at Arsenal is fantastic – and now it looks like he’s getting the sort of team together he’s been after for a long time: last year, we won the FA cup; this year, we finished third instead of 4th – so obviously, a win tomorrow is a progression on last year’s season.
What do you make of Chelsea as League champions?
Brilliant – they totally deserved it. When I look at them, they remind me of the Arsenal team I used to play for. There are great players in there who can change the game. You know, we had Thierry Henry, Marc Overmars and Robert Pirès. But then we also built on a really strong defence. That's exactly what Chelsea have got; a good mixture of young and old who’ve got great experience but still have the flair players in Hazard and Drogba – who's now obviously leaving – but they're still big influence players.
Earlier this week, Jose Mourinho was seen quipping about the Premier League's top tier at the Chelsea Player Awards. What do you make of him?
[laughs] He’s brilliant. I’m so glad he’s back in the premiership. He's a great character and, at the end of the day, he's a top quality manager.
What do you make of the recent FIFA scandal?
It was already embarrassing what was going on but now it's even more so. An even bigger can of worms has been opened so we’ll see what happens about that. It’s good to see they’re finally going to sort it out.
What are you up to these days?
I'm just enjoying myself. I go over to Arsenal a little bit and help out my mate Tony Roberts [Arsenal's goalkeeping coach]. Other than that, I'm doing my charity work. This week, I’ve been working with Captain Morgan for today's event. I'm a busy man.
Do you still love football as much as ever?
Yeah, but people ask me if I miss it and I can honestly say I’ve not missed being a player one bit since I retired. I follow the Arsenal and Leeds games, as well as other teams I used to play for, but that's as far as it goes. It's still enjoyable to me.