Back in the 70s and 80s, Bob Wilson used to find himself in every living room in the country as part of the BBC’s coverage of the FA Cup final, a seven-hour extravaganza that filled the broadcaster’s schedule for most of the day. This evening, he will watch his beloved Arsenal take on Chelsea at Wembley from the comfort of his couch in his seafront home in Christchurch, Dorset with his wife Megs for company.

Wilson, now 78, was the goalkeeper in the London club’s famous double-winning team of 1971 and remains a keen observer of a club he has served in a number of guises since 1963.

He says he will watch one player more closely than the rest: former Celtic defender Kieran Tierney.

“So, we’re going to talk about the next Arsenal captain,” says Wilson unprompted, demonstrating he has lost none of the skilled broadcaster’s aptitude for directing the conversation. “One of the things that has been levelled at Arsenal since Arsene [Wenger] left is about the leadership, the characters, where’s the personality. His impact already on Arsenal fans and certainly senior boys like me and David Seaman and people like that is ‘thank God, for once they have got it right’.

“I don’t mind it when a guy [gets] angry at his fellow team-mates for sloppiness or whatever. I watch him really carefully – I watch them all really carefully – but Kieran is the one who you can see quite clearly, if things go well you can see his joy in that, but my goodness he makes no bones about pointing the finger [when things go wrong]. He’s only 23 but he’s won a number of Scottish Premiership titles so he obviously feels like he can turn around to 27, 28, and 29 year-olds and feels that he can have his say and I love that. I think it is great.”

Tierney revealed recently that this has been his most difficult season in football, overcoming a dislocated shoulder injury that kept him out for three months before he eventually found his feet and then flourished as the season drew to a close.

Wilson has been particularly impressed by the maturity demonstrated by the Scotland left-back. He just hopes that Tierney, who has established himself as a firm fans’ favourite already in north London, has not made such an impression that other clubs – such as today’s opponents – might start stealing covetous glances.

“You wouldn’t see him at this moment in time being signed by Liverpool because they are strong in both positions, right and left, but you could certainly see him being signed by Manchester City and you could see him being signed by Chelsea because the lad that is playing left-back for Chelsea [Marcos Alonso], he has his good days but he hasn’t got the consistency that he might,” he says.

“Kieran has physical presence. If you look at his body build, you can see the bulk and you can see the physical power of the guy and when he moves out of defence everybody gets very excited because not only has he got the ability to score a goal but his delivery on crosses is terrific. You know what it is like when a ball goes to a certain player and they immediately have that affiliation with the crowd. For me, Kieran is the biggest plus.”

This is not the first time that the FA Cup final has presented Arsenal with the opportunity to salvage something from a relatively unsuccessful season, Arsene Wenger guiding the Gunners to Wembley glory in 2014, 2015 and 2017 when the club last won a trophy. This time around, though, it feels even more important with a place in European competition up for grabs should they succeed in overcoming Frank Lampard’s side this afternoon. Wilson thinks they have a chance based on recent victories against Liverpool and Manchester City, even if the bookmakers are less convinced with Arsenal priced as 5/2 shots.

“There are frailties in there so it’s what side turns up,” he says. “I will be wonderfully, pleasantly surprised if we win. There have been plenty of Cup finals when the favourite has not got over the line. Chelsea are quite clearly the favourites, Frank has done an incredible job. He’s got them into the Champions League and he’s got them to the Cup final but we are quite capable of beating anybody if we can beat Manchester City and Liverpool. We are quite capable of losing to anybody. That’s where we are at the minute. But I am a Mikel Arteta fan.”

Wilson’s own recollections of the FA Cup final he played in concern the mistake he made for Liverpool’s goal – scored by Steve Heighway – and the subsequently redemptive saves he produced to ensure Arsenal lifted the famous old trophy following a 2-1 victory. He says he has a lucky charm ready for today but admits he is unsure whether to wear it.

Wilson added: “It’s an Adidas hat. I did a coaching session not long ago for charity at Arsenal’s training ground. And the guy there said ‘Bob, you’ve got to wear this new Adidas gear’. I had the cap on for the Liverpool game and we had a bit of a run and then, of course, we lost to Aston Villa.

“It’s crazy, it’s superstition but I did have superstitions. When I left home before every game Megs would have the three kids lined up at the door and, they would say ‘good luck, dad’, ‘play well’, ‘keep em out’ before I left for every game. It didn’t stop Steve Heighway sneaking one inside my near post.”