Wigan Athletic defender Emmerson Boyce believes the weight of expectation is on their opponents as Latics prepare to face Arsenal in The FA Cup Semi-Final at Wembley.
While the defender feels Arsenal are contending with pressure and expectation, he says the Wigan players will be fully relaxed going into the Saturday’s game.
“All the pressure is on Arsenal at the moment. They had a bad result against Everton and I’m sure they’ll want to put that right,” Boyce told Wembleystadium.com.
“No-one expects us to go through so we are going to go there, enjoy the day, play our hardest and let Arsenal deal with the pressure.”
But, while few are making Latics favourites for the Wembley clash, Boyce says his team-mates are backing themselves to upset the Premier League giants.
“We went there and won it last year I think that’s put a great belief into the squad,” he said, “Arsenal are a great team but we go there with no fear.
“We beat [Crystal] Palace and Cardiff and then had a great game against Manchester City where we came through against all odds.
“Then we get Arsenal in the Semi-Finals, which was the hardest possible draw, so if we do retain the trophy no-one can say we’ve done it the easy way.”
He added: “But it’s all part of the challenge, that’s what’s got us to where we are now. Wigan always thrive on being the underdogs.”
Boyce also admits the players have an additional motivation to win this year’s competition.
Last season’s Cup Final hero Ben Watson must watch Saturday’s game from the stands after suffering a horrible double leg break back in February and Boyce admits the lads would love to lift The Cup for Ben.
“We showed our support for Ben when we wore t-shirts for him at Man City,” said Boyce, “we are desperate to win The Cup for him.
“Hopefully we can get through the Semi-Final and go on to lift The Cup. It would be great for Ben if we do manage it.”
Last season Wigan had another sad story motivating them to glory.
Latics chairman Dave Whelan suffered Wembley despair in the 1960 FA Cup Final when he broke his leg in a challenge with Wolves’ Norman Deeley.
To make matters worse his Blackburn side went on to lose the Cup Final 3-0 but that particular story had a fairy tale ending when, last season, Whelan’s Wigan lifted The FA Cup after defeating Manchester City.
Whelan was so desperate for his side to lift the trophy that, in the build to the game he made a promise to his captain, Boyce, if he led the time to glory.
“I’ve got a team out in Barbados called Bajan Elite and he said before The Final if we win The Cup he’ll take it out there, show my team and show it to the locals,” recalled Boyce.
“To be fair he was true to his word. He took The FA Cup out there and paraded it round.
“Next time hopefully I can go out there with him, maybe he could take the whole squad, who knows?”
You can read a full interview with Emmerson Boyce in the official matchday programme, which you can buy around Wembley stadium on the Saturday or order online here