By Josh James
Thomas Vermaelen hopes to finally make his Wembley debut this year - one way or another.
The defender has yet to appear at the national stadium, having missed last year's Carling Cup final through injury, but he could help Arsenal take a huge stride on the road to Wembley on Sunday.
The famous stadium will once again be hosting the FA Cup semi-finals this season, and with Belgium due to play England there in a friendly on June 2, he could even make it a hat-trick of outings under the arch.
“I want to play at Wembley because I haven’t done that yet,” Vermaelen told the Official Matchday Programme.
"It’s a really nice stadium, I was there at the Carling Cup final last season, so I got a chance to see it even if I didn’t play. The atmosphere was fantastic, so it would be amazing to play there.
"I’ve never played there either for my country, but Belgium have a game scheduled there in June I think, so hopefully I’ll get to play there this year.”
If Vermaelen does play against Villa, it will be just his second taste of FA Cup action, his previous appearance coming in the 2-1 win over West Ham two years ago. But despite his limited experience in the competition, the 26 year-old is fully aware of the history surrounding the Cup.
“Even before I arrived here I knew that the FA Cup is very big in England,” he said. “When I was in Holland I used to watch the FA Cup a lot on TV, and all the finals. I know there is a lot of tradition and I’m looking forward to playing in it hopefully this weekend.
"The FA Cup is a target for us of course. Our targets are to finish as high in the league as possible, but we also have the Champions League and FA Cup to go for."
- Read the full interview with Thomas in the Official Matchday Programme. Click here to subscribe.