EMMERSON Boyce says the Wigan Athletic squad’s desire to lift the FA Cup is just as big as it was last year.
Latics head into today’s semi-final against Arsenal as clear underdogs but the Latics skipper says that tag simply helps the team – not hinder them.
Already in this cup run they’ve beaten higher opposition three times to keep up an unbeaten streak in the competition that now stretches to 12 games.
“It could be one of the most successful seasons we’ve had for a long time,” said Boyce.
“We’ve had a difficult route to the semi-final in terms of teams we are playing.
“As we always do, we believe we can get a result and thankfully we’ve done it against Crystal Palace, Cardiff, Manchester City and hopefully we can add Arsenal to it.
“It will be a great day out, there will be no pressure on us. We’re going to enjoy the day and what will be will be.”
A handful of the players who lifted the cup left May have now left the club but a good few do remain.
While they have the taste for glory leaving them wanting more, the new members of the squad have seen the effects of last year’s success.
“What you’ve got to remember this is more or less a new team,” added Boyce. “The players that have come in want to be part of our success as FA Cup holders.
“I think that’s a lot to drive the players on, obviously the cup has been at the stadium.
“The new players didn’t want to have their pictures done with it in terms of they’ve never done it and I think that’s driving them on in terms of wanting to be part of success.
“We’re in the semi-final and that’s the furthest a lot of players have been and we’re in touching distance now.”
When Latics defied the odds to win the final last season, much of the attention before the game was on off-the-pitch turmoil surrounding Manchester City.
Fast-forward 11 months and Arsenal are going through a similar crisis.
A heavy defeat to Everton last week has hampered their Champions League qualification hopes.
The Gunners last won a trophy in 2005 and the pressure has widely been put on them to win the FA Cup this term due to being overwhelming favourites. “Obviously the pressure is going to be Arsenal though there’s no doubt about it,” Boyce pointed out. “Their result against Everton will make them want to come out and put a good performance together and result.
“It’s going to be hard but we’ll go there full of confidence, obviously all the pressure is on Arsenal in terms of the league and in terms of winning a trophy.
“We’ll go there to enjoy the day, no one expects us to win and that will work in our favour.”