OK, a quick preview this morning as we’re nearly ready to leave for a kick-off time that is beyond belief. The Football Association keep telling us that they are looking at why the FA Cup is losing (surely that should be ‘has lost’) its place in English football’s standings. Here’s a small hint: noon on Sunday is not a time for a top-class football match.
The Arsenal side that Arsène fields today will bear no resemblance to the one that takes on Everton on Tuesday (here’s another hint to the FA: do away with FA Cup replays in their entirity. None in the final or the semis, so why the rest of the competition?). I would expect Wenger to go with:
Almunia; Eboue, Squillaci, Koscielny, Gibbs; Rosicky, Denilson, Diaby; Bendtner, Chamakh, Arshavin
More to the point, I don’t expect Arsène to make any substitutions unless absolutely necessary. With all due respect to Huddersfield, he will be hoping that there will be a big enough lead established so that he might give Koscielny a rest and perhaps blood Miquel, for example.
History is rather against today’s visitors in terms of a shock. Huddersfield have never beaten Arsenal in the FA Cup. This is Arsenal’s 37th 4th round tie at home (excluding replays) and only 3 have been lost, the latest was Arsène’s first FA Cup campaign, Leeds bringing that to a grinding halt with a 1 – 0 victory. It is hard to see an away win unless complacency sets in.
Since the disjointed perfomances against Leeds and Ipswich, things have been running smoothly. Goals have been flying in and several players are moving into better form. Arshavin most notably has improved, the only thing missing is a goal or two to improve his self-belief. Against Ipswich, his two ‘assists’ must surely have helped particularly as both required the sort of accurate delivery that has been missing in recent months. Being on the scoresheet this afternoon would lift a burden off the Russian’s shoulders.
Elsewhere, Manchester United are apparently determined to steal Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from under Arsenal noses whilst not a lot else is going on. Chelsea’s public pursuit of Luiz from Benfica ended in failure just as lectures are being received on spending (Viv Nicholson is spinning in her grave at Arsène’s parsimony) whilst they look set to sign Fernando Torres from Liverpool for £50m and Anelka. Which probably won’t happen either but at least kept the media busy this morning.
Enjoy the match wherever you’re watching it. ’til Tomorrow.