Wrighty still hoping to get the nod

IF Arsene Wenger follows his familiar pattern, the Arsenal manager will not decide on his FA Cup Final goalkeeper until tomorrow morning.Maybe he has already made up his mind as to who will face Chelsea and just doesn't want to go public with his decision.

By Mel Henderson

IF Arsene Wenger follows his familiar pattern, the Arsenal manager will not decide on his FA Cup Final goalkeeper until tomorrow morning.

Maybe he has already made up his mind as to who will face Chelsea and just doesn't want to go public with his decision.

Or perhaps he is still mulling over the respective merits of in-form England number one David Seaman and another international, Richard Wright.

The ex-Ipswich keeper has appeared in all but one of the Gunners' games en route to Cardiff, but Wenger has dropped a strong hint that he will give Seaman the nod for the final.

Wright, a near-£5million summer signing from Ipswich has handled a season of more troughs than peaks with maturity and decency – but he admits he is desperate to play tomorrow.

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"I want to achieve things and I want to do well," said Wright. "That is why I desperately hope the manager picks me for the cup final.

"But I am not looking at it as 'if I played in the cup final that makes it a better season'. We are looking at the FA Cup Final as a chance to win medals. That is why we want to win the league as well."

Wenger has used the FA Cup to rebuild Wright's confidence after a couple of high-profile mistakes early in the season and a long-term knee injury.

Although Wenger said the slate was clean when Wright jumped to a ship that already contained the very able Seaman, the manager plumped for the older keeper when the season began.

Seaman's shoulder problem gave Wright his opportunity nine games later, but he gifted goals against Charlton, Spurs and Deportivo La Coruna. He later admitted that, in the last of those games, he was carrying an injury.

"There have been disappointments," admitted Wright, "but I have learned from them and that is what you have to do. I came here wanting to play a good game.

"I had disappointments – not getting in the team initially, then getting in the team, then things did not go right and I got injured. But I had to deal with things and also with the injuries, although I haven't had many of them during my career."

The cup has been his salvation. Wenger introduced Sylvain Wiltord in similar fashion last season and he even started the final against Liverpool. Wright has played every game apart from the third round tie at Watford, but does not expect to be put out of his misery quickly.

"If I look back at all the cup games leading up to this one, I only found out on the day of the game whether or not I was playing," said Wright. "Sometimes you get a little inkling but I have never known until the day."

Wright has only been to the Millennium Stadium once – to watch speedway's British Grand Prix last June.

The move from Wembley has not diminished the tournament's allure in Wright's eyes, even if one of his favourite memories may not please his current club.

"It is every schoolboy's dream to play in an FA Cup final," said Wright. "As a kid I remember doing stuff on a Saturday and them sitting down with my mates to watch it. The one that stood out was the Wimbledon-Liverpool game because of the penalty save by Dave Beasant.

"But as an Ipswich fan, the one everyone talks about is when they went to Wembley in 1978 and actually beat Arsenal 1-0.

"Roger Osborne, a local lad, scored the goal. I was only a one-year-old at the time, which is why the Wimbledon one stands out for me. But 1978 is the biggest one from what I have been told about."

Wright: Round by round

Fourth Round – Liverpool (h) 1-0

"It was a very hard game with everyone talking about what happened the season before in the final. It was a wet day and I made an early save from Michael Owen. We got the goal and then defended very well, before the sendings off which made it difficult. We stuck together with nine men. We have had that a few times."

Fifth Round – Gillingham (h) 5-2

"They were a good team but we were disappointed to concede two goals, though one was a fine strike. The main thing was to get through and this was a professional performance. Playing lower division teams, you have to win your battles early then a bit of quality usually prevails."

Sixth Round – Newcastle (a) 1-1

"It was bit like the Liverpool game. Saving a free-kick from Alan Shearer after about two minutes set me up for the game. We scored early and then they put us under pressure. They scored just after half-time and made it difficult."

Sixth Round Replay – Newcastle (h) 3-0

"We were absolutely awesome. We had Tony Adams back, then Dennis (Bergkamp) and Robert (Pires) scored early to help us. It was then a matter of finishing off the job. They had a bit of pressure but we weathered it."

Semi-final – Middlesbrough (Old Trafford)

"Dean Windass hit one early from distance. It moved a bit in the air but I got a strong hand on it and we got the ball away. Same as the Newcastle game; an early save helps me feel confident. We didn't play to the best of our ability, but it was all about getting to the final. We had injuries and Patrick Vieira ended up doing well at centre-half."

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