Premier League has been put on hold for a weekend of FA Cup action. Arsenal begin their bid to win a third consecutive FA Cup title against Sunderland at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday. After a series of continuous Premier League action since Boxing Day, both club managers have decided to rest their key players.
Arsenal’s defender, Hector Bellerin is out of the fixture as he has been allowed to rest and has gone to Amsterdam for a weekend holiday. Midfielders, Olivier Giroud, Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey will also most likely be excluded from the match.
Out of the two managers, Sam Allardyce is the frustrated manager out of the two because of the difficult run of fixtures, with three away trips in a week. The on-going relegation battle has become extra difficult because of continuous travelling. Therefore, Sunderland might put less importance on the upcoming FA Cup fixture as they aim to escape relegation for yet another season.
The Black Cats are currently 19th in the league, after winning their last fixture against Aston Villa 3-1 at Stadium of lights. However, they will travel again, to Swansea for their midweek fixture of the Premier League.
Arsenal on the other hand are first in the Premier League sitting top with a comfort of two points gap between themselves and Leicester. Gunners can actually prioritise both the competitions as they have managed to win the competition consecutively for the past two years and aim to begin their campaign for winning it a record 13th time.
Wenger might also take this opportunity to give game time to the players who haven’t spent much time on the pitch for the club this season. Hence, goalkeeper David Ospina, defender Gabriel Paulista and Kieran Gibbs, can all be expected in the line-up.
Mikel Arteta might also make an appearance after returning to training, but Alexis Sanchez is yet to make a comeback for Arsenal.
Sunderland’s manager has admitted he too will be making many changes since Premier League is the priority for them. They will be without Younes Kaboul, Adam Matthews, and midfielders Sebastian Larsson and Jack Rodwell, because of injuries.
Arsenal: Ospina, Pleguezuelo, Chambers, Gabriel, Gibbs, Arteta, Flamini, Campbell, Reine-Adelaide, Iwobi, Walcott
Sunderland: Pantilimon, Yedlin, Brown, Coates, Van Aanholt, M’Vila, Gomez, Watmore, Toivonen, Borini, Watmore