Fresh from their 5-1 humiliation at the hands of Bayern Munich, Arsenal must pick themselves up and go again against a Lincoln City side that are coming in off the back of a 4-0 away win at Braintree Town.
Ahead of the game, Arsene Wenger has been speaking about selection issues. He voiced that Danny Welbeck and Alex Iwobi are doubts following sickness. With Welbeck being out, I don’t think that would cause too much trouble, as he’s mostly an impact sub, unless if Olivier Giroud is injured in the game (should he start) as that scenario would leave Arsenal with no other recognised forward. As for Iwobi, Arsenal will miss his style of play in terms of precision. What I mean by that is, he has an eye for goal.
Danny Cowley says that the pressure would be on Arsenal, which is typical as the bigger club is always assumed to win the match easily. He also said that his side will break down the match into nine 10 minute games, to make it easier for them. It’s a unique style which I have never actually heard of previously and I won’t knock them for using that method, it’s clearly worked in the past. Whereas, assistant boss Nicky Cowley said that he’s proud of the players and that they should play the game and not the occasion.
I’m happy Arsenal drew Lincoln City, not because I think the match will be “easy”, but because I like that Arsenal are being provided with a new challenge. For Lincoln City, playing the occasion is the last thing they’d want to do as that would mean that Arsenal could well wipe the floor with them. I don’t want an easy game, I want to see a challenge from the non-league side. City are a great example of non-league and other teams should follow suite of them.
Having shocked Burnley in the last round, the Cowley brothers will be raring to get one over Wenger and effectively end his tenure. Whilst Lincoln City have never made to this stage previously, the last time Arsenal got to this stage was last season. They were beaten by Watford and that is something Wenger’s side won’t want to repeat.
Arsenal had to get past three successive away games to get to this round Preston, Southampton and Sutton United. On the other hand, Lincoln Cit’ys adventure started all the way back in October and they having caused many upsets along the way having beaten Burnley in the last round, as well as Ipswich and Brighton & Hove Albion in previous rounds. They couldn’t cause another upset, could they?
This is a fixture that Arsenal cannot afford to lose, given the trajectory of the season. I think this is a match where Wenger can field a strong side and not make many changes like he did ahead of Watford last season and Blackburn Rovers in 2013, due to having a Champions League tie a few days later. This time round, however, this competition will be the main focus as it is the only realistic one Arsenal can still win this season.
I expect Lincoln City to play like it’s their final game, much like Sutton United did. These smaller teams always seem to have something extra up their sleeves. Arsenal must be prepared from the off. Failure to do so will see them chasing the game, a scenario I’d rather not see.
Feature image credit joshjdss