Will Arsenal Field a Weakened Squad in the FA Cup?
After starting the Premier League in 2016 on a high note with a win over Newcastle, Arsenal will shift their focus to the FA Cup, a competition they have won for the past two seasons. With the Premier League and Champions League taking priority in an ambitious club like Arsenal, the FA Cup and Capital One Cup has served as platforms to field second-string players and a couple of youngsters.
However, when the Gunners got to the business end of the competition, Wenger chose his big guns to do the needful. While the previous final against Hull was nerve-racking and pulsating, last season’s final against Aston Villa was relaxing as the Gunners ran riot against Tim Sherwood’s men.
On Saturday, the Gunners will host Sunderland in the third round of the competition. I would expect Petr Cech to get some deserved rest with David Ospina getting another chance to strut his stuff in goal. The fans would also get the chance to scream the ‘Ooooooooooooooooospina’ chant when he punts a dead ball and to be honest, I’ve missed hearing that chant even though I love me some Cech.
In defense, the Whining One, Matt Debuchy, will get some minutes as a right back and he’s clearly not happy about his situation at Arsenal. It’s not as if he can do better than Hector Bellerin at the moment that has proved his worth in recent times. In contrast to Debuchy, Kieran Gibbs has accepted his place as Nacho Monreal’s deputy and he does his stuff with minimal fuss when he’s summoned on the pitch. I’d also expect the goal hero and defender extraordinaire, Laurent Koscielny, to get a breather with the beastly Gabriel Paulista getting the nod. I really loved how the Gab attacked every corner against Bournemouth and I’d be expecting the same.
On conundrum would be in the position Calum Chambers would play. I am certain that he will be on the pitch against Sunderland, but he will be in contention for a place in either central defense or holding midfield.
Speaking of holding midfield, where the Hell is Moh El Nenny? His transfer to Arsenal is turning into anothe protracted Andrey Arshavin-esque saga and I’m hoping he makes it in time to make his debut in front of the home fans against Sunderland. The paucity of options in Arsenal’s midfield makes it imperative for El Nenny to be available for selection, even though Wenger has told us that Francis Coquelin is ‘now running’.
In attack, Alex Iwobi and Joel Campbell would lead the line but I would need a Theo Walcott or Olivier Giroud spearheading the attack.
There’s a lot of time between now and Saturday though.