FULL Arsenal team news and preview for Lincoln City in FA cup

Arsenal go onto this FA cup quarter-final at the Emirates as huge favourites to beat the National League club Lincoln City and progress to the final, and with the famous old trophy being the last chance of some silverware for the Gunners in what could be the final season under Arsene Wenger it is vital for the players to make sure the bookies are not wrong.

The fact that tomorrow’s match will take place at the Emirates is a huge factor, as the pitch should allow Arsenal to play the sort of football that we have become famous for under the Frenchman and should have the visitors chasing shadows and looking like a side 88 places below us in the league standings.

Wenger will have to manage without a few Arsenal players though, with Danny Welbeck and Alex Iwobi having picked up the illness bug that may also keep Mesut Ozil out, along with us having Santi Cazorla and Mohamed Elneny on the injury list.

The recent form of the respective sides is also against Arsenal as we have won just two and lost four of the last six games while Lincoln have won five and drawn one, with one of those wins being away to Burnley where most Premier League clubs have struggled.

Wenger is calling for a real show of unity from his players and the sort of performance and result that will go some way to easing the recent pain. Can they do it?

Giroud starts as Arsenal go BIG for Preston FA cup clash

What with all the fixture congestion and the injury problems that Arsenal have had to deal with in the first half of the season, together with the fact that Arsene Wenger has often admitted that the FA cup is below the Premier League title and the Champions League on his list of priority goals for the Gunners, I was half expecting the Frenchman to field a team of nearly unknown players today.

But Wenger has given the FA cup and our opponents today all due respect by selecting a strong Arsenal team that includes the recent late goal and scorpion kick scoring goal hero Olivier Giroud. The big Frenchman will lead the line in what is likely to be a tough physical test away to the Championship club Preston North End and it looks like he will have Lucas Perez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on the flanks with Alex Iwobi getting another chance to impress in the number 10 position usually played by Mesut Ozil.

Arsenal have a strong central midfield pairing with Ramsey and Xhaka in front of a strong back four that sees young Maitland-Niles join Gabriel, Mustafi and Monreal, with David Ospin between the sticks. Wenger has certainly picked a strong Arsenal XI, so will they get the job done at Deepdale today?

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While Arsene Wenger has already accepted that the FA cup is now the best and perhaps only chance for Arsenal to get our hands on a trophy this season, he has not quite given up on the other two competitions yet. So with a second leg against Barcelona in the Champions League on Wednesday followed by a big Premier League game away to Everton next Saturday, the prof is going to have do some clever tinkering and rotating to get the best out of the Arsenal squad in the next week.

Today sees the Gunners play host to Watford and Wenger will make a few changes while still putting out a side that he feels will get the job done today. I think this means that he will save Mesut Ozil for Barcelona and put young Alex Iwobi in the number 10 role, but there will be strong players all around him.

I think we will see Giroud, Walcott and probably Campbell up front with Welbeck and Alexis saved for the UCL game. I reckon that Chambers might be in line to start in the centre of defence in midweek so today will see Mertesacker and Gabriel paired up with the more attacking Gibbs instead of Monreal on the other side to Bellerin. Either Flamini or Coquelin will complete the team with Elneny in the middle.

Bellerin, Mertesacker, Gabriel, Gibbs
Flamini, Elneny
Campbell, Iwobi, Walcott

Wenger blames Arsenal forwards for FA cup replay

After seeing Arsenal held to a disappointing draw by the Championship side Hull City yesterday, I left the TV in and waited to see what Arsene Wenger would say about the team, the result and the problem of another game to fit in as we head to an FA cup replay.

But the programme finished before the Frenchman emerged from the home dressing room, although his past match comments have now been reported on the Arsenal website, and from what the manager said I assume the extra time in the dressing room was because Wenger was giving his misfiring forward players a piece of his mind.

The boss certainly suggested that their failure to find the net was the main reason for the Gunners having to face another game against the Tigers. He pointed out the fact that Theo Walcott, Danny Welbeck and Joel Campbell are all full internationals and so his rotation should not have been a problem.

And while the Arsenal boss gave credit to the visiting team and their determined defending, while also recognising the excellence of their keeper Eldin Jakupovic, he clearly felt that we should have had more than enough fire power to win the game.

Wenger explained why we could only draw, “Because Hull defended well, because their ‘keeper played well, because our final ball was maybe not good enough and because when we could give the ball in the final third, we decided [to go for] an individual solution.

“The goalkeeper did well of course, but we had maybe 70 per cent possession and more than 20 shots on goal, and we didn’t score. We have to look at ourselves as well, even if you can give credit to their ‘keeper.

“The nightmare would have been to go out. The frustration is that we didn’t score and it’s not what we wanted, to have a replay, but between that and going out, we choose the replay. I am happy for the replay [as opposed to going out]. We need to be more efficient in the final third, because today we had more than 70 per cent possession and we will not have that on Tuesday night. That means we’ll have to be more efficient with much less of the ball.

“I played a team that, in my opinion, had the quality to win the game today. The Barcelona game was not in my mind today. I rested Ramsey and Ozil completely, because they’ve played many games since the start of the season. When I can do it, I do it. Mesut Ozil was a bit sick over the week, so I decided to leave him out completely. Ramsey has played many games, so that’s why I kept him out.

“A shame? No, because that would mean that the players in the squad are not good enough, which I don’t think [is true]. If you look at the players that played in our team, Ospina, Chambers, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, they are all internationals, [as are] Elneny, Flamini, then yes, Iwobi. People want you to give a chance to young players. When you play them, they say ‘it’s a shame’. Up front we had Walcott, Welbeck and Campbell, all internationals. People always want you to buy more and more players. When you play them, they say ‘why did you play them?’ I think the team was of quality and that’s not an excuse.”

Have Arsenal got a big problem with goals and with this extra game?

Arsenal XI for Hull in FA cup with EIGHT changes

There were always going to be some changes made to the Arsenal starting line up for this FA cup 5th round match against Hull City. Arsene Wenger has always used these cup games top rotate his squad and give sime valuable first team experience and game time to some of the lesser used members of the squad.

And with our opponents today having bigger fish to fry with their battle for promotion to the Premier League and a busy fixture list, the boss has a great chance to make changes and still have a great chance to win the match and qualify.

So with one eye on the Champions League home leg against Barcelona on Tuesday, I think that the Frenchman will make a massive eight changes to the Arsenal XI that started against Leicester City last weekend. The only players that I expect to keep their places are the two centre backs Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny and the England international Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, leaving us a line up like this.

Chambers, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs
Flamini, Elneny
Chamberlain, Iwobi, Campbell

What do you think of this Arsenal starting line up and what would be yours?

Can Arsenal win the FA Cup for a third year in a row?

Arsenal secured their place in the fourth round of the 2015-16 FA Cup with a 3-1 victory over Premier League rivals Sunderland. The Gunners have won the competition in each of the last two seasons, beating both Hull City and Aston Villa in the respective finals.

Arsene Wenger’s side are hoping to get their hands on the Premier League title this season, however another FA Cup success would land Arsenal in the history books as no-one has won this competition three times in a row since the 19th century. Can they do it? We investigate.

It wasn’t exactly plain sailing for Arsenal in their third round tie but Wenger’s men got the job done and that is what’s important in cup competitions. While the Gunners failed to inspire confidence throughout the clash, they still scored three goals. In recent years, many have accused Arsenal of being weak-minded but nobody can accuse them of that anymore.

The Gunners are talented and hungry for further success – a deadly combination. Arsenal are priced at just 7/5 in Coral’s football betting markets to win the title and if they continue to build momentum, they stand a very good chance of achieving their ultimate goal.

With the likes of Olivier Giroud, Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil in fine form, the Gunners boast one of the strongest and deepest squads in the top flight. Even if Wenger chooses to rest players for some of their FA Cup clashes, Arsenal will still have a very strong team on the field and will be incredibly difficult to beat.

In the next round, the Gunners will welcome Burnley to the Emirates Stadium and Wenger will be quietly confident of defeating Sean Dyche’s side and booking their place in the next stage of the tournament. Arsenal are 5/1 to win the FA Cup and punters will be able to keep up with all the latest markets and match betting with Coral.co.uk for both the Burnley game and future fixtures.

So, can Arsenal win the cup again? Of course they can. While the Premier League remains an absolute priority for Wenger and his side, the FA Cup would be a nice little addition. After ten years without success, it would be amazing to see the Gunners lift four trophies in three seasons. With a bit of luck on the injury front, there’s absolutely no reason why Arsenal cannot defend their FA Cup trophy at the end of May.

Arsenal bounce back to begin FA cup defence in style

Towards the end of the FA cup clash between Arsenal and Sunderland at the Emirates stadium, the poor old Black Cats of Sam Allardyce looked like they did not know what day it was. The Gunners were in full flow and could have scored a hatful of goals as the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Joel Campbell, Bellerin, Giroud and all ran rings around the tiring visitors.

But it was not always so comfortable and the Arsenal players had to dig deep into the resources of energy and application after a slow start and a mistake gave Sunderland the lead about halfway through the first half. They had other chances as well, including a header that came crashing off the bar early in the second half.

But after the blow of going behind you have to praise Arsenal for the way we kept our heads and bounced back with three well taken goals from Campbell, Ramsey and Giroud. It was another example of how much more resilient that current side ar than we were a few years ago and it bodes well for Arsenal going all the way and making history with a third FA cup trophy success on the spin.

Arsenal FA cup line up with EIGHT changes

Now is the time when having a strong squad really pays dividends and Arsenal have so far managed to cope with the various competitions and the heavy festive fixture list, even though the Arsenal injury list has had some key players on it for a while.

And despite the Gunners being drawn against Premier League club Sunderland for today’s FA cup 3rd round, Arsene Wenger will make some changes to the starting line up with injury concerns and the EPL game away to Liverpool next week on his mind.

Whether he makes as many as the eight I am suggesting remains to be seen, but we could still field a strong side and as we are at home it should be enough to see of Sam Allardyce and the Black Cats. David Ospina is sure to start and I am also fairly sure that Gabriel, Gibbs and Campbell will come in and that Walcott will replace Giroud in the centre forward role.

I am not so sure about Debuchy and Arteta or Alex Iwobi but I think the boss needs to give these players some game time and if not today, when?

Debuchy, Mertesacker, Gabriel, Gibbs
Chambers, Arteta
Chamberlain, Campbell, Iwobi

Positivity and Passion will see Arsenal right says Wenger

Arsene Wenger has reminded his Arsenal players that they have a tough test ahead of them today in the 3rd round of the FA cup against Sunderland, because this season and recent years has taught us that any Premier League team can cause us an upset on their day.

But the Gunners have ways of making sure that today is not their day, by turning up with the right attitude and putting in the right sort of performance from the first whistle at the Emirates stadium. History beckons for Arsenal as this year gives us a chance to be the first club for 130 years to win the FA cup three times in a row but just like in the game today, Arsenal need to be on it from the start to keep this hope alive.

So in a report on the Arsenal website the Frenchman is calling for a positive attitude from the team and also for the passion to make sure that we treat the Black Cats with all due respect.

Wenger said, “Everybody wants to achieve something special but the best way to do it is to go step by step. We play against a Premier League team and we have learnt in the last 20 games that any Premier League team is a massive problem to face. The only way to deal with it is to give absolutely everything.

“It’s a good challenge [to try and win three in a row] and we’ll take it on. We have the desire to do well and to do it again. Let’s see how we get on in the first test and let’s deal with that. We have enough confidence, enough desire, so let’s turn up with a positive performance.

“The FA Cup has been fantastic for me. When I was a child I dreamed of winning the FA Cup and now, when I look back, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to go to Wembley so many times.

“It’s always a special moment but this is a new start all over again. It’s a long journey to get there and that’s why we have good memories. We want to start well again.”

Wenger has also hinted that he will make a few changes to the starting line up, with second choice keeper David Ospina set to start his first game since the Champions League calamity. But I do not expect too many changes as the boss targets this incredible FA cup record.

Walcott explains why he will sign new Arsenal contract

Theo Walcott has not always been all that popular with the Arsenal fans but he enjoyed arguably his finest hour as a Gunner yesterday and then appeared to commit his future to the club, thanking Arsene Wenger profusely for giving him a Wembley start ahead of Olivier Giroud and talking about the future of the club and his own part in it.

In a post match interview reported on the Arsenal website, Walcott gave a clear explanation of just why he wants to stay with Arsenal and it is all very positive stuff.

He did not talk about money or the fact that Wenger now seems convinced that he is worth a regular starting role but he did talk about the current Arsenal squad being the strongest that he has known since joining from Southampton back in 2006.

He said, “It’s absolutely incredible. It’s a great achievement to win the FA Cup on consecutive years and it just shows this is a special team and we’re going to continue to win many more, I’m sure.

“It’s weird how things come to place, scoring the goal with my left foot, which was the leg I had an issue with. I’ve worked really hard, not just me, everyone behind the scenes that nobody gets to see, the support and the faith that the manager’s had in me. The fans have been incredible as well. We need to remember the players who all contributed to the run to the final, it wasn’t just about the players who played, it’s almost a whole squad here. It’s a family thing and it means as lot to everyone.

“We knew that if we defended well we would win the game. We did that exactly. We defended really well from top to bottom and we were leading 1-0 at the break. Shay Given was absolutely fantastic in goal but we had a great performance. When you want to turn it up, you have to do it in finals and all the lads turned up.

“It’s an incredible amount of support that we have, not just in England but across the world. We want to do this more and more for these guys because they deserve it and this group of players deserve it. I’ve been here for a long time and this is the best group.”

So will Arsenal, with Walcott, prove that this FA cup is just the beginning?