Arsenal certainly have a lot to prove to the home fans in what is realistically their last chance at silverware this season. The Swans earned a replay at the Emirates after scoring a late equaliser courtesy of Danny Graham and will this time will have the option to start their star striker Michu who has scored three times in his last two games against Arsenal.
A point of interest in this upcoming match is Wenger’s reluctance to rest Wilshere. While the young Englishman has certainly been a top performer since his recent return and has easily been most passionate Arsenal player on the field, it is difficult to see when Arsene is likely to rest the young Englishman if not in this game. With such a congested fixture period you certainly feel Wenger needs to rotate at some stage soon, although the reliance on the fragile Rosicky and Diaby has heavily mitigated his ability to do so.
In terms of key absences, Arteta has been ruled out with a calf strain sustained before the Manchester City match at the weekend. His replacement is likely to be Ramsey with Diaby likely to be rested for the upcoming match against heavyweights Chelsea at the weekend. Hopefully his run against City at the weekend has increased his sharpness and match fitness, although you can only pray his body holds out for a few games.
With Koscielny missing the game through a ridiculous tackle at the weekend, Mertesacker is a certainty to start alongside Vermaelen. The German has arguably been Arsenal’s most consistent defender this season, but given the recent history between himself and Michu I wouldn’t fault for any Gooner for worrying about his chances of effectively containing the prolific Spaniard.
Given the above news, anyone can see that this match is shaping up to be a tough one and Arsenal will need to work hard if they are to pull off a victory, particularly when you factor in that Swansea will be high in confidence after going 7 matches unbeaten and Arsenal somewhat low on morale. Hopefully it is one of their good days at the office.
on the FA Cup replay…
We have Koscielny suspended for tomorrow night and everybody else will be available. He will be replaced in the squad by Arshavin.
on Mikel Arteta…
Arteta’s injury could be shorter than three weeks because it’s a minor calf strain. It’s a light grade one so it could be quicker than three weeks.
on Tomas Rosicky…
Rosicky is still out. He has a little calf problem. I wanted to involve him tomorrow night but it’s too short.
on Lukasz Fabianski…
He’s the only one injured, along with Arteta now. He’s one more week away from full training I think.
Sagna Mertesacker Vermaelen (c) Gibbs
- Arsenal have not won yet in 2013, with their last win having come in the 7-3 thriller against Newcastle in late December.
- The Swans are currently on a seven-game unbeaten run in all competitions, featuring tough tests against Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Everton.
- Theo Walcott is the Gunners top scorer with 14 goals in all competitions. The forward has scored eight goals in the Premier League, five in the Capital One Cup and one in the Champions League.
- Swansea’s top scorer, Michu, has netted three times in the two matches between the sides this season.
- The Gunners have won the FA Cup 10 times, one less than record holders Manchester United. The last time the north London side won the tournament was in 2005, which was the last time they won a major trophy.
- Arsenal haven’t failed to make the Fourth Round of the FA Cup since 1996.
- In four previous FA Cup meetings, Arsenal have beaten Swansea twice and lost once, while the most recent meeting finished 2-2, hence Wednesday night’s replay.
- The furthest Swansea have progressed in the FA Cup is the semi-finals stage, which the Welsh side achieved in 1926 and 1964.
- Five of the six goals scored between Arsenal and Swansea this season have came in the final 10 minutes of matches.
- Danny Graham has scored four goals in his last five FA Cup appearances, including the late equaliser against Arsenal in the last game.
Arsenal 2 Swansea 1