Arsenal go into the fifth round of the FA Cup to face Sunderland for the second time in seven days. Although a week ago the gunners recorded a well-deserved comeback victory, there is no doubt the drubbing in Italy will still be fresh in Arsenal minds after they let in four goals to effectively end their Champions League campaign this season.
Ahead of this tie, the injury curse at the back has struck again with it confirmed Mertesacker will be out for the long-term after having to undergo surgery to reconstruct his damaged ankle ligaments and Koscielny out for a week following a knock to his knee. The injuries mean a significant decrease in quality in the middle of defence with Djourou likely to fill the void, although after his midweek performance I would like to see Miquel given a chance if Song isn’t dropped back in defence.
In terms of the rest of the team, they are all up for selection with Gervinho also joining the squad after coming back from a disappointing loss the final in the African Nations Cup. After the poor midweek performance it is anyone’s guess what players Arsene will pick for the clash, but what is for certain is that Chamberlain must start and maybe even Gervinho after Walcott was yet again absent at Milan and Rosicky simply can’t play effectively out wide.
Looking at midfield, there is chance for rotation after it failed to fire in midweek. Ramsey simply looked out of his depth in the attacking midfield position and it may pave the way for Rosicky to retain the spot. Arteta will obviously take his usual starting spot, but in terms of the screening midfielder role there is an option for Alex Song to drop into the centre of defence and for Coquelin to perhaps get a deserved start as the defensive midfielder.
With this realistically the last chance at silverware this season, it is imperative Wenger plays a strong side not to only win the match but to also avoid a replay in the case of a draw. The last thing Arsenal need is a congested fixture schedule in coming weeks.
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He is back in the squad. From the other night, we have lost Koscielny. Everyone else is available for selection.
on Laurent Koscielny’s knee problem…
He had a scan yesterday and the news is quite good. He will be out for hopefully around a week. He will miss the Sunderland game. But he should be back for next week.
on Per Mertesacker’s ankle problem…
Unfortunately he has had surgery and we have lost him for a while. How long I don’t know. He had reconstruction of his ligaments. So it will be long term.
on Kieran Gibbs’ return…
He played his first game in four months in Milan. So of course it was a shock to go back to that level. But physically, he is alright.
on Carl Jenkinson…
He is back in full training on Monday. That is good news for us.
Arsenal – Robin van Persie – The Dutchman has been in fine form in recent weeks, most recently with a hat-trick against Blackburn. Expect more of the same from Arsenal’s talisman and captain.
Sunderland – Stéphane Sessegnon – The Beninese footballer has been Sunderland’s main source of goals this term netting 6 goals and grabbing 7 assists this campaign.
Sagna Song Vermaelen Gibbs
Chamberlain Rosicky Gervinho
Van Persie (c)
Arsenal to win:
Bet365 & Paddypower are offering odds of 6/4 for the Gunners to win away.
Skybet are offering the best odds at 12/5
Sunderland to win:
Paddypower are offering odds of 19/10 for Sunderland to win at the Stadium of Light.
allArsenal’s Special Bet:
allArsenal’s Special Bet: Anytime Goalscorer = Robin Van Persie=21/20
Robin van Persie has scored seven goals in his last nine FA Cup appearances.
Robin van Persie is the top scorer at Arsenal this season with 28 goals, with the next best – Theo Walcott – having scored six.
If Sunderland score first but fail to win, Paddy Power will refund all losing 1st/last goalscorer, correct score and scorecast singles.
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