The teams for Arsenal’s FA Cup clash with Sunderland have been announced, and there are some real surprises from Arsene Wenger. It looks as though there’s been a change of formation, with a number of natural wide players starting and a few established first teamers handed a rest.
Petr Cech continues in goal, with David Ospina apparently suffering a minor groin problem that has kept him out of the team.
Gabriel Paulista gets a start alongside Laurent Koscielny (much to the delight of Arsenal fans), with Per Mertesacker not in the squad at all.
Hector Bellerin continues to keep Mathieu Debuchy out of the team, and the Frenchman’s Arsenal career really does appear to be over. On the opposite flank Kieran Gibbs gets a start though, with Nacho Monreal relegated to the bench.
Calum Chambers deservedly gets another start in midfield, with no sign of Mathieu Flamini. It looks as though he’s being partnered in midfield by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, with Aaron Ramsey taking a spot on the bench.
This is where it starts to get interesting, as on top of the Ox, Alex Iwobi, Theo Walcott, Joel Campbell, and Olivier Giroud all start.
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That’s four very attack minded players, potentially crowbarred into the team in unfavoured positions. Unless Iwobi or Campbell are being forced into the No.10 role, it appears as though Arsene Wenger has opted for a 4-4-2; Walcott up front with Giroud, flanked by Campbell and Iwobi.
The likes of Jeff Reine-Adelaide and Chris Willock are on the bench.
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) January 9, 2016
The Sunderland team is as follows:
Sunderland XI v Arsenal: Pickford, van Aanholt, Cattermole, O’Shea (c), Lens, Graham, Toivonen, Coates, Fletcher, Yedlin, Watmore. #ARSSUN
— Sunderland AFC (@SunderlandAFC) January 9, 2016
It’s a strong team for the most part, but we’re obviously missing some key players. Wenger has taken some chances with the formation and the makeup of the side though, with balance potentially an issue.
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It’s obviously a massive day for Alex Iwobi, but it will be interesting to see how our forward line operates – both going forward and tracking back; there could definitely be plenty of goals in this one.