Arsenal — Coventry City (FA Cup)
Friday night Coventry visit the Emirates to kick-start the 4th-round of the FA Cup, and they are going in good spirit. They haven’t lost in their last six fixtures and have little to lose. As for the hosts, this is the best chance they have to break a ten year drought of silverware, ninety minutes at a time. Who will come out on top?
Arsène Wenger says he won’t underestimate Coventry City, he learned his lesson well last season when the Gunners got sent off by Championship Blackburn (0-1). He’s aware the last time the two sides met at the Emirates it was an easy run for the Gunners. Since then things have gone even better for the Londoners. They lead the Premier League table and continue fighting for the FA Cup. Oh, and let’s not forget going through to the nock-out stages of the Champions League with flying colours. But the French Manager has been around long enough to know huge disappointments come to those who take results for granted. So yes, he would like to rest a few players but with a piled up injury room he’ll have to manage with those available.
Aaron Ramsey and Mikel Arteta will join the squad on Monday for League action, not just yet. Sanogo will also be back in the fold next week. Nicklas Bendtner will be in contention. Abou Diaby, Theo Walcott and Rosicky all miss out through injury. Vermaelen is doubtful.
Probable line-up: Fabiansky — Jenkinson, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Monreal — Wilshere, Falmini — Gnabry, Cazorla, Rosicky — Podolski.
The Sky Blues are unbeaten for the last six games in all competitions and it is theirs League One’s top scorer, Leon Clarke, with 15 goals to his name. They occupy the 11th post in the table with 34 points for 26 ties. A rather remarkable run if you take into consideration they’ve started the season with a ten point reduction for going into liquidation.
Last season Coventry visited the Emirates for a League Cup fixture that resulted in a 6-0 victory for the home team. The road to this 4th-round FA Cup has made them cross paths with Barnsley (1-2), Hartlepool (1-1, 2-1) — that have forced a replay-match — and AFC Wimbledon (1-3). This week Coventry was reported training their starting XI against twelve players, supposedly as a preparation for the work load involved with facing a team that lavishes with the ball and excels in possession, as Arsenal does.
Steven Pressley is a man with a plan and he intends to make it as hard has possible for the leaders of the Premier League to stroll ahead.
Callum Wilson, a 21-year-old striker, will miss the match due to a dislocated shoulder. All the others are ready for the call.
Probable line-up: Joe Murphy — Blair Adams, Cyrus Christie, Andy Webster, Danny Seaborne — Carl Baker, John Fleck, Conor Thomas, Jordan Clarke — Franck Moussa, Leon Clarke.
There has been a decade since the Gunners won a trophy. This is looking more and more like their moment. My clairvoyance doesn’t allow me to say they win anything for sure but at least they can no longer be easily dismissed as title contenders. Arsenal will take this Cup tie seriously because they must, they need to strength their reputation. New Arsenal wants to win. This is a great moment to make that statement.