The third round of the FA Cup begins tomorrow. On Saturday Arsenal will face Championship side Preston North End. This might seem like an easy win for Arsenal but Arsene Wenger is bound to make plenty of changes in this match. Preston North End are at home and will want to field their strongest side to cause an FA Cup upset and progress in the competition.
Last season, David Ospina was Wenger’s chosen goalkeeper in the FA Cup and I expect that to continue this season.
With Arsenal out of the EFL Cup, eight points behind leaders Chelsea in the Premier League and due to face Bayern Munich in the Champions League, Wenger should take this competition seriously. Realistically, the FA Cup is the only piece of silverware that Arsenal stand a chance of winning this year.
Wenger has said Arsenal will play with ’90 per cent of the squad’. The Frenchman plans to rest Koscielny and Alexis but the rest of the team will play.
Francis Coquelin picked up a hamstring injury in the draw against Bournemouth and will be out for three to four weeks. Lucas injured his ankle in the same game and Wenger will wait to see how he responds.
Theo Walcott and Kieran Gibbs are still not ready to return and neither is Mesut Ozil after being ill for two weeks.
Even without these players, Arsenal have a strong enough squad to beat Preston North End. These two sides last met in the FA Cup, also in the third round, in January 1999 when Arsenal won 4-2.
Can Preston North End earn victory over the Gunners or will Arsenal get back to winning ways?