Arsenal, the current holders of the FA Cup will host Sunderland at the Emirates on Saturday, in the third round of the competition. The Gunners will be hoping to retain their title, for a third consecutive year and Arsene Wenger would once again want a good professional performance from his side in the cup competition which he has won than any other manager in its history. On paper, it seems that there should be only one winner based on current form, though games are never won on paper.
The north London side have won four of their last five games in all competitions and have just lost once and would want to add yet another win to their tally. On the other hand, the Black Cats have won just once in the same number of games and will hope to surely improve their record.
Also, Arsenal have won four of the last five meetings between the two sides with one game ending in a goalless draw, which clearly highlights their domination in this fixture.
Arsenal still have six players out injured, who will not be able to recover on time and will miss this game. Regular first team stars like Santi Cazorla, Alexis Sanchez and Francis Coquelin will be sidelined once again, who will be a huge miss for the French manager. Further, Jack Wilshere, Tomas Rosicky and Danny Welbeck are still not fit as well. Rosicky is expected to be back in full training next week, while Mikel Arteta is available.
For Sunderland, four players are out injured who might not feature in this game against the Londoners. Jack Rodwell, Younès Kaboul, Adam Matthews and Sebastian Larsson will also not be fit on time to feature in this match. It will be a tough ask for Sam Allardyce’s side, who will want to put in a good solid performance despite of their absentees.
Cech; Monreal, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Bellerin; Flamini, Ramsey, Walcott, Oxalade Chamberlain, Ozil; Giroud
Pantilimon; Coates, Jones, O’Shea, Van Aanholt; M’Vila, Cattermole, Johnson, Borini, Graham; Fletcher
Fletcher vs Koscielny:
The Arsenal center-back has been in superb form this season and will have the job to keep the attacker quiet in the game. He will try his best to replicate some of his best performances, as the home side will try to dominate this game and try to retain their title once again. It will be interesting to see how the Scot performs in place of Defoe, who started last weekend and impressed, as he scored a brace for his side against Aston Villa.
Giroud vs O’Shea:
The former Manchester United man will have his hands full, as the France international will be hungry for goals in the cup competition and will try to get on the score-sheet quite early. It will be interesting to see how this battle develops, as the lone striker will be at the center of all the attacks that will be created by the hosts. If O’Shea can keep his man quiet and not allow him too much space, there could be a chance for his side to take something out of the game as well.
Prediction: Arsenal 1-0 Sunderland