Arsenal remain in the FA Cup but, with an incredibly busy schedule and three competitions to fight for, a draw against Hull City on Saturday could end up being the worst result imaginable.
A win would have been excellent while a defeat, obviously, would have left the Gunners with a blow to morale and some fan fury to contend with. It would also have allowed the team to focus on league form more closely.
As it is, the six day gap between Arsenal’s defeat of Leicester City and the draw with the Tigers could now be the longest break the squad has until an international break at the end of March.
A busy schedule won’t allow many spare days to play the FA Cup replay, and the Gunners aren’t allowed to play at the same time as Champions League ties, so it looks likely that an early evening kick-off on the 8th March, just four days before the proposed FA Cup quarter-final, will be forced upon us. If so, our fixture list will start to look incredibly troublesome.
We only have two days between Saturday’s draw and the visit of FC Barcelona on Tuesday evening. As if it couldn’t get more daunting, that will be followed up by a trip to Old Trafford on Sunday 28th February before returning to London and swiftly preparing for a home game against Swansea City, on Wednesday 2nd March.
A crucial league game at White Hart Lane is on Saturday the 5th, before a possible FA Cup replay on the 8th of the month. A defeat will mean a Premier League match against West Bromwich Albion on the 12th, if we beat Hull City we will play an FA Cup quarter-final that weekend and the match against Tony Pulis’ side will be rearranged. Goodness knows when for.
On the 16th, a daunting return leg at Camp Nou is in store before a trip to Goodison Park to face Everton on the 19th March.
20th February until 19th March, 29 days and probably nine games. A game just over every three days. Time to rotate that squad, Arsène.