Arsenal are set to play host to Middlesbrough in the fifth round of the FA Cup on Sunday, the oldest domestic cup competition in the world. The defending champions advanced to the fifth round with a win over Brighton and Hove Albion while their opponents pulled off a vintage FA Cup surprise by humbling Premier League holders Manchester City at the Etihad stadium with a 2-0 hammering.
The last time Arsenal played against Boro was during the reign of the Invincibles when the North London club secured a 4-1 win at Highbury with goals from Dennis Bergkamp, David Bentley and a brace from Freddie Ljungberg.
Boro, dubbed as this season’s giant killers after knocking Liverpool and Manchester City out of the competition, are not to be taken lightly and Arsene Wenger is weary of their threat.
Speaking during the pre-match press conference on Friday, Wenger said;
“We won’t be surprised by them. At least we will not have the excuse to be surprised because they beat Manchester City in a convincing way. That is a good warning for us.”
The Gunners could however be without Alexis Sanchez and Aaron Ramsey who sustained fresh injuries on Tuesday night during their 2-1 home win over Leicester City. Alexis suffered a knock on the knee in the first half of the game and was later taken off in the second half after exhibiting signs of discomfort. Ramsey on the other hand suffered a hamstring injury just nine minutes after coming on as a second half substitute and although Wenger insisted he does not yet know the extent of the injuries, Alexis could return within the next few weeks while Ramsey’s hamstring injury could keep him sidelined for longer.
The boss also admitted that playing at the Emirates gives them an edge over their opponents and they will capitalize on this to ensure they qualify for the quarterfinals.
After having an impressive run in the FA Cup, Middlesbrough believe this is their season and they won’t be settling for anything less than a win. However, tactical discipline and being clinical in front of goal will see us through into the last eight.