The big news of the day is that Arsenal have drawn Manchester United at Old Trafford in the 5th round of the FA Cup. Unlike some Arsenal supporters, who seem to be less than pleased with having to play United so early in the competition, I think it’s a brilliant outcome.
Arsenal were likely going to have to beat United at some point to win the FA Cup so to get them at this early stage is not a big deal. The game will be played just a few days before Arsenal face AC Milan at home in the Champions League, so it is likely that Arsene Wenger will put out something of a mix of regular starters and some fringe players. It could be suggested that this will hurt Arsenal’s chances, but it should also be remembered that Manchester United have an equally tough game just after away to French Champions Lyon.
The best thing about football is watching the best teams play against each other and to get another opportunity to watch Arsenal tackle Manchester United is one that I would welcome with open arms. It will be a great contest and if Arsenal do get the better of Ferguson and his cronies who knows how much confidence it could inject into the side with the trip for Milan.
Many people may look at the two big games in a row as having the potential to take the wind out of Arsenal’s title challenge but as an optimist, I tend to look at them as a big opportunity to really make something memorable out of a so-far successful season. Whichever outcome proves to be right, it will no doubt be a lot more fun than playing Huddersfield or Shakhtar Donetsk (no offence to those clubs).
There is another important game a little closer on the horizon, as Arsenal host Newcastle United for the second time in a matter of days later tonight. The 3-0 win over the same side in the FA Cup on Saturday was a relative cruise for Arsenal thanks mainly to Emmanuel Adebayor, but football is a funny game and I can’t see Wenger and his side having it as easy today.
In team news the manager revealed that Tomas Rosicky will be missing the match due to a minor muscle injury problem but will thankfully be back sooner than later. Wenger also mentioned that Kolo Toure, who went off injured playing for the Ivory Coast during their second African Cup of Nations game, flew back to London to retrieve an assessment from Arsenal’s medical staff before being declared unavailable for only just over a week.
“[Rosicky] got a kick at Fulham and the inflammation around his tendon provokes some pain but we feel it’s a question of days, not weeks. [Toure] will [be] out for eight to 10 days. But he will stay with the Ivory Coast squad for the rest of the tournament.”
The team should look quite similar to the one that won on Saturday. Manuel Almunia will start in goals behind a back four of Bacary Sagna, Philippe Senderos, William Gallas and the closest thing to a human energizer bunny, Gael Clichy. Mathieu Flamini – who was absolutely outstanding a couple of days ago – should partner Cesc Fabregas in the middle while Abou Diaby and Alexander Hleb will likely feature on the right and left respectively. Goal-machine Emmanuel Adebayor and Eduardo da Silva will surely start up front.
When you consider that Sagna, Hleb and Eduardo did not start in the FA Cup win this side looks even stronger than the one that beat the same Newcastle side on Saturday. As such, I expect the boys to get the three points to keep the pressure on Manchester United, who face a tricky test away to Tottenham. A win and some dropped points from United would be the perfect tonic for what should otherwise be a relatively dull week of work. Sigh.
What do you think?
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