After coming through the third round tie with Sunderland at the beginning of the month, a win against Burnley would take Arsenal one game closer to a third consecutive FA Cup.
The Championship side last visited the Emirates Stadium in the cup back in 2009, when Eduardo’s magical ‘beach goal’ capped his return from injury. That day, like the league fixture in north London last season, ended 3-0 but nothing will be straightforward about this tie.
Arsène Wenger faced the media in a good mood on Friday morning, thanks to the return of a number of players. Francis Coquelin and Tomas Rosicky are available for selection at the weekend so it’s no wonder the manager is in a good mood.
The transfer window was, obviously, brought up but there’s no real news for Arsenal fans that regard the immediate future.
As expected there will be some rotation, with one eye on the game against Southampton on Tuesday night. That means David Ospina will be in goal, while Mohamed Elneny could make his debut in midfield.
Francis Coquelin and Tomas Rosicky are both available and someone will have to replace Per Mertesacker at the back before Wenger decides who else needs a rest. Alexis Sanchez is in line for his first start since November after coming off the bench against Chelsea last week.
There may be a temptation to start a strong side, but Petr Cech, Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Özil are unlikely to be involved at all. Jeff Reine-Adelaide didn’t train with the squad on Friday so will probably be with the u21 squad instead.
Possible XI: Ospina; Bellerin, Chambers, Gabriel, Gibbs; Elneny, Coquelin, Iwobi; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott, Alexis.
The boss admitted that he watched Burnley’s 4-1 defeat of Derby County on Monday night and was impressed by the quality of their players, remarking that almost every single one of them has played in the Premier League in recent years.
A familiar face is Joey Barton, who signed for the Clarets in the summer. He was joined by Andre Gray, who has scored an impressive 17 goals in 25 Championship appearances so far this season. Both players are key to the Burnley side chasing immediate promotion to the Premier League, having only suffered relegation back in May.
There is a chance that Sean Dyche will be tempted to rotate his side a little, as he did for the third round game at Middlesbrough, as he looks to keep players fit for the promotion battle in the Championship. Just as they were last season, Burnley will be very organised in a 4-4-2 shape no matter who starts, looking to be hard to break down before threatening from set-piece situations.
Possible XI: Heaton; Darikwa, Keane, Duff, Mee; Boyd, Barton, Jones, Arfield; Gray, Vokes.
Arsenal are unbeaten in the FA Cup for three years now, and haven’t even gone to a replay (though three Wembley games have gone to extra-time) in the last two seasons. A run of 13 FA Cup games unbeaten have seen Arsenal score 34 goals and keep four clean sheets.
It’s a pretty impressive total, and a win on Saturday would see the Gunners move a step closer to a 13th FA Cup win. A goal like Eduardo’s seven years ago would be the cherry on top.