The FA Cup is back again and it will be great to inject some good feeling back into the atmosphere following the Southampton defeat. The mood is such that you'd think we had won once in six games, in reality the loss to Southampton was our first defeat in six games. Scoring 14 goals conceding 8 during that time period. But a cup clash with last seasons cup final opponents can hopefully bring back some positive memories. Looking back at that team that lifted the cup, it's amazing how different it is to the team we see today. 7 of the 11 players in that team will not be in the squad this afternoon, it is also possible that at least two of the remaining four players will be rested due to a rather hectic Christmas schedule on a rather small number of players. Can we really be surprised at inconsistent results given this rather ridiculous and never ending injury situation we find ourselves in.
We will be still feeling the effects of Giroud's moment of madness as he sits out his last game of a three game suspension. We are feeling that reaction even more as Danny Welbeck will not be available due to his thigh injury. It leaves Arsène in a bit of a sticky situation really as the cup is our best chance of silverware yet the players look like they are running through quicksand. Arsène will want to rotate the squad but the players we have left to come in are inexperienced youngsters for the most part, or players who are out of favour.
There will be risk whatever way he turns. Play the same group of players and risk injury after playing too many games in a short space of time, if not then perhaps burning them out further or play young fresh players like Chuba Akpom and risk a team who are fresh but lack continuity or in some cases quality. I suspect Arsène will lean towards the former but a couple like Koscielny and Alexis might be allowed a chance to rest, the former an option from the bench should we need it.
Mean Lean's Predicted Line Up:
Ospina is the new Fabianski so he will more than likely be our cup keeper for this season. I wasn't too keen on his debut performance in an Arsenal shirt in the League cup but one game is not enough to form any real opinion so I hope he looks assured and ready today.
I think Arsène will make a decision between starting either Alexis or Cazorla. I'm not sure if we have the depth at present to rest them both and I'd be quite surprised to see them both start but hey, you just never know. It will be interesting to see Theo Walcott start his first game in a long time. Ideally Arsène would have wanted him to have made more appearances from the bench in recent weeks so he will have to hit the ground running. Hopefully being at home, he can get more touches of the ball than he got at St Mary's in the last half hour.
It also seems as if Dan Crowley is in the squad, not sure if he will get on if he is but I hope so. Really enjoy watching him play and has everything needed technically to make the grade here. We'll have to see if he has the other ingredients.
It's my son's 2nd birthday today so all the post match stuff might be postponed until tomorrow rather than tonight. We'll see.
Enjoy the game and let's hope to continue in this competition how we finished in 2013/14, with victory.