Arsenal travel to Wales to take on Swansea City at The Liberty Stadium in the 3rd round of the FA Cup on Sunday afternoon.
No doubt we will all remember what happened the last time we met the Swans, with Michu bagging a double to secure a deserved 2-0 win at the Emirates last month, so boss Arsene Wenger will hopefully be using that result as motivation on Sunday.
Not that the players should need any more motivation other than the chance to end our seven-year trophy drought and the only way to have a chance of winning the FA Cup for the first time since 2005 is to put in a performance this weekend.
After a run of four consecutive wins, we were back to our old ways against Southampton on Tuesday. It was a dreadful display and we barely deserved to escape with a 1-1 draw so we’ll need to improve drastically if we’re to have a chance of beating Swansea on Sunday.
Thankfully we have no fresh injury worries ahead of the game. Back-up goalkeeper Vito Mannone and midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong – who’s returned from his loan spell at Charlton – are both doubtful with illness but it was unlikely either would feature anyway.
Abou Diaby and Andre Santos are both back in training but are not expected to feature on Sunday as they lack match sharpness.
I hope Arsene doesn’t tinker with the team too much. The FA Cup is our only realistic chance for silverware left this season (sorry, but I just don’t see this squad being capable of winning the champions league!) so I’d like to see something like our strongest team put out.
While Theo has done well through the middle in recent games, I think Giroud deserves a game up top and his presence could be useful for this tricky away tie. The Ox has started a lot in recent weeks and could maybe do with a rest anyway so my choice would be to bring Giroud in for Chamberlain and play Walcott on the right.
Santi Cazorla is another who looks like he could do with a break. With league games against Man City, Chelsea and Liverpool coming up as well as our Champions League double-header with Bayern Munich, he’s not going to have a chance to rest anytime soon so perhaps Arsene will decide this is his best opportunity to rest the Spaniard. If so, I’d like to see Tomas Rosicky come in and not Aaron Ramsey.
There is a chance Swansea boss Michael Laudrup may opt to rest a few key men as he may have one eye on their Capital One Cup semi-final against Chelsea on Wednesday. Michu and Angel Rangel were both doubts for their last game on New Years Day and although they both played, Laudrup may decide to rest them if their not 100% fit.
Danny Graham is expected to start up top after scoring in his last two games.
Despite the fact the Swans have beaten us on the previous two occasions we’ve played each other, I just can’t bring myself to accept a scenario where we’d crash out the FA Cup in the 3rd round. It hasn’t happened since 1996 and I don’t think this will be the year we break the cycle. Arsene HAS to take the FA Cup seriously and really go for it this year, starting at the Liberty on Sunday. Swansea 1-2 Arsenal COYG!
What would your starting line-up be and whats your score prediction? Get involved in the comments section below.