Arsenal come into this tie on the back of a disappointing loss to Fulham in the Barclays Premier League where the cottagers mounted an inspired come-back after the dismissal of right-back Johan Djourou for his second bookable offence. After a busy festive period expect a rotated squad for the upcoming match against Leeds United with many first-team players looking in need of rest and recuperation.
Many of the headlines this week have centred around the official return of Arsenal legend Thierry Henry. The Frenchman’s paperwork was finalised this week and as expected he has slotted straight into the squad. While many fans would have wanted him to start the match, Wenger has confirmed that the Frenchman is short of match-fitness and will likely feature off the bench.
The injury to Vermaelen and the suspension of Djourou poses major problems for Arsenal in the full-back positions. Squillaci’s cameo at right-back against Fulham may mean he may reprise his role in the back-line but perhaps rather in central defence with Koscielny. In terms of right-back there could be a rare start for Nico Yennaris while Miquel will reprise his current role at left-back.
In terms of offence it is confirmed that at least two players will be rotated with Wenger stating Robin van Persie will be rested and Gervinho already having departed for the African Nations Cup. There is a good chance Marouane Chamakh will get a chance to try impress up front with Chu-Young Park and Benayoun. Expect Coquelin and young Englishman Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to also get starts in midfield to support on attack.
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on what team he is likely to field…
[I will play] a strong side, a normal side.
Maybe one or two will be rested, but apart from that I think we will still have Marouane Chamakh.
Robin van Persie will certainly be rested for this game. We will hopefully have Chamakh available, [Ju-Young] Park available.
Gervinho will maybe miss the game because they [the Ivory Coast players] have to turn up 14 days before the [Africa Cup of Nations] tournament starts.
Arsenal – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – The young Enlgishman has been impressive when he has featured for the gunners and will look to impress after Wenger stated he is likely to receive more call-ups to the first-team in 2012.
Leeds United – Ross McCormack – The Scottish forward has been Leeds United greatest source of goals this terms scoring a total of 12 goals in all competitions. Expect him to hassle Arsenal’s make-shift defence to try inflict a rare defeat at home in the FA Cup for the gunners.
Yennaris Squillaci Koscielny Miquel
Benayoun Chamakh Park
Skybet & Bet365 are offering odds of 2/7 for the Gunners to win at home.
Skybet & Bet365 also are offering the same odds at 9/2
Leeds to win:
Bet365 & Skybet are paying out a decent9/1 for Leeds to win away at the Emirates.
allArsenal’s Special Bet:
allArsenal’s Special Bet: To score anytime–Thierry Henry=4/6
*Special bet facts:
Thierry Henry scored 11 goals in 11 games against Leeds in all competitions, including four in his last appearance against them at Highbury.
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