Following the 5-1 demolition at the hands of Bayern Munich in the week, Arsenal must get their heads up for their third successive away tie at Sutton.
I’m not too confident, to be honest, as I’m always wary of how these lower league sides set up. I’m pretty sure that Sutton United will make their home atmosphere as difficult for Arsenal as possible.
In what’ll be the first ever fixture between the sides, there’ll be at least one recognisable face in the Sutton United side in the form of Craig Eastmond, who played for the North London outfit from 2009-2013, but only appeared four times as he was sent out on loan during most of his time at the club. Speaking of him, he returns to his current squad following a three-game suspension.
The only downside for Sutton is that they’ll be without Ben Jefford, Jack Jebb and Craig Dundas as they’re all cup-tied, so won’t be able to take part. As for Arsenal, Laurent Koscielny will be missing after picking up a hamstring injury in the loss to Bayern. Not having a midweek game is quite possibly the best news of the season at it means that Arsene Wenger (who has come under much scrutiny) will be able to name a strong side.
Wenger has spoken of the importance of focusing on the next game and dealing with the media. Paul Doswell has been giving his side a bit of hope but also knows the realistic chances of beating Arsenal by saying that if Wenger was to field an Under-23 side with squad players, and internationals, that may give his side a one percent chance.
We as fans shouldn’t just assume that the team would just turn up and win without a fight as that has happened in the past (see West Ham at home, August 2015). My thoughts going into this game are that we should be confident but also cautious as we respect the opposition. I feel that Sutton may have given Arsenal a bit too much respect (off the pitch) (going by what Doswell has had to say), but that shouldn’t deter from the job in hand.
Arsenal playing away will give the players a culture shock as they won’t be playing in the “glitz and glamour” stadium, but will instead be playing at an “old school” stadium. Maybe this is something they need, just to remind each and every player where they came from in footballing terms. None of the players started playing football in a comfy changing room did they?
The fact that this match will be played on an artificial surface won’t make much difference as Arsenal train on the surface every week.
Speaking to ArsenalFanTV, Roarie Deacon has said that it doesn’t matter what kind of side Arsenal put out as long as his Sutton side play to their strengths. He also added that his side aren’t going to change the way they play. Craig Eastmond spoke about playing his former side and added that it’s a dream come true to play against his former side. I don’t think he and Deacon will be going out with the mindset that they have anything to prove.
The draw, that took place yesterday, pitted Arsenal or Sutton United against Lincoln City in the quarter-finals.
Could Paul Doswell’s men become the second Non-League side to make the quarter-finals or will Arsenal win comfortably?