It’s hard to tell what the mood in the camp is like heading into Tuesday’s FA Cup 5th round replay against Hull City.
On one hand, Arsenal came back in Saturday’s north London derby to cling to life in the Premier League title race. On the other, the team had a great chance to win but went down to ten men and conceded twice at White Hart Lane. Ultimately I guess it depends on whether you feel like they earned a point or dropped two.
The 2-2 draw means it’s now five without a win in all competitions though a draw on Saturday did prevent us from losing a fourth consecutive game. The winless run started against Hull City, so can it end against them too?
Facing the media on Monday morning, Arsène Wenger was quick to say the pressure he’s under at the moment doesn’t faze him. The boss also took the chance to defend his side’s spirit once again and talked up the importance of Tuesday’s match.
“We are in a position where we always have to win the next game,” insisted the Arsenal manager. “It’s the most important game of the season for us because it’s the next one.”
That’s always the mindset and, having won the cup in each of the last two seasons, it’s no surprise we’re taking the game seriously.
Well, as seriously as you’d take the game when you’re in desperate need of Premier League points. Arsenal badly have to win their next few league games, so Mesut Özil is likely to be one of a few players rested on Tuesday evening.
Wenger confirmed that there would be some rotation, and Alex Iwobi will take Francis Coquelin’s place in the squad – the French midfielder is suspended following Saturday’s red card.
We’re unlikely to see Danny Welbeck from the start, and Wenger may also look to protect the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Héctor Bellerín and Alexis Sánchez, who have all played a lot of football in recent weeks.
Along with the long-term injuries in midfield, Laurent Koscielny is out.
Possible XI: Ospina; Chambers, Mertesacker, Gabriel, Gibbs; Elneny, Flamini, Iwobi; Walcott, Giroud, Campbell.
Hull City manager Steve Bruce took his seat in Monday’s press conference and defended Arsène Wenger, calling the criticism he’s been receiving lately “appalling”.
Bruce also said that Hull City will rotate, with their eyes on promotion from the Championship. The Tigers have won just one of three games since the 5th round tie at the Emirates Stadium, which has allowed Burnley and Middlesbrough to leapfrog them and charge into the automatic promotion places.
As a result, the pressure is on Bruce and his players even more and he won’t take risks just to try and compete with Arsenal when the cup is deemed ultimately irrelevant.
There are no injuries, but on-loan Arsenal duo Isaac Hayden and Chuba Akpom are ineligible.
Possible XI: Jakupovic; Elmohamady, Maguire, Davies, Bruce, Odubajo; Maloney, Taylor, Meyler; Powell; Diomande.
Will the Gunners be up for the cup, or will they let Hull cause an upset? After stopping the losing run, our momentum heading into the last few weeks of the season may depend on Tuesday’s result, even with a heavily rotated side.
A win keeps us in with a shout of winning the cup for a third consecutive season and will be a huge boost for the next few games coming up. A loss, well, I don’t want to think about it.
What did she wear?
Remember: Tuesday’s match kicks off at 19:00, rather than the usual time of 19:45 for midweek fixtures.