Arsenal will no doubt want to avoid another upset after their shock exit at the hands of Bradford in the Carling Cup earlier in the season. I have no doubt they have learned their lesson from that match and will hopefully come out firing against a Bradford team that has already caused a massive upset by eliminating Newcastle in the previous round.
Arsene Wenger has confirmed that skipper Thomas Vermaelen will be on the sidelines after picking up an ankle injury from fellow team-mate Aaron Ramsey. Wenger has stated that it is a short-term injury and hopefully his absence is only more of a precaution with a big clash against Liverpool following this FA Cup tie. Koscielny is almost certain to be Vermaelen’s replacement.
Vermaelen’s absence also brings about the issue of a skipper and it is more than likely that Jack Wilshere will be given the armband with vice-captain Mikel Arteta still absent with a calf strain. Personally, I couldn’t think of a better candidate with Wilshere showcasing the passion, work-ethic and leadership of a player seemingly much beyond his years.
While Vermaelen is the only new face to the injury list, the fixture also provides an opportunity for Wenger to rest some key players ahead of the upcoming midweek clash against Liverpool. Oxlade-Chamberlain could come in for anyone of the usual front trio while Ramsey could again start in midfield alongside Diaby for Cazorla who is well overdue for a rest. The same could be said for our wing-backs Bacary Sagna and Kieran Gibbs with both Andre Santos and Carl Jenkinson available for selection.
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Whatever the selection, Arsenal will be clear favourites going into the match, but will need to avoid complacency in order to avoid another disappointing upset. The FA Cup remains their only realistic chance of silverware this season and hopefully they keep that chance intact with a comprehensive victory!
on players dropping out from Wednesday night…
Vermaelen will not be available. He did his ankle against West Ham. He could have played on and I took him off as a precaution. It got a bit worse yesterday so we will not gamble on him. It is short-term.
on the players coming back…
We have Rosicky and Diaby available.
on Arteta and Coquelin…
Arteta and Coquelin are still out. Arteta is closer than Coquelin. It is still a matter of days for them.
Fabianski has been back in full training since yesterday. He is still short but it is the first time since pre-season that he has been in full training. With him and Rosicky coming back we are gradually getting everyone back.
Sagna Mertesacker Koscielny Gibbs
Brighton 1 Arsenal 3