Arsene Wenger is determined that there will be no repeat of last season’s defeat to Blackburn Rovers when Arsenal again take on lower-league opposition in the FA Cup on Friday. The Premier League leaders meet League One side Coventry City at the Emirates in the fourth round and Wenger is warning against any complacency.
"It was the first time in 16 years that we lost against lower-league opposition in the FA Cup, so that was a great warning,” he said in his pre-match press conference.
"We have to prepare seriously for this game, because we are on a good run and it would be really not welcome at all not to take this game seriously,” he added. “We are still in a moment of our lifetime, this team, where we want to gain respect and through our attitude is the best way to gain respect.
"Football maybe it’s the only sport, that‘s why it’s so interesting as well, if you have two or three divisions difference in basketball, rugby, volleyball, handball you cannot win, but in football you can. And that makes it unpredictable.”
Wenger will be able to call upon Nicklas Bendtner for the match, after the striker returned to training this week following an ankle injury. The contest will come too soon, though, for Aaron Ramsey and Mikel Arteta, with the midfield duo set to rejoin training on Monday. Tomas Rosicky is also ruled out as he continues to recover from a broken nose.
Arsenal come into the match having won their last six matches in all competitions, including a 2-0 victory over north London rivals Tottenham in the last round of the FA Cup. And they will be keen to keep up momentum in a season which still promises much.
Coventry would appear to have little chance of derailing Arsenal’s three-pronged assault to end their long wait for silverware. The Midlands club lie in 11th place in England’s third tier, although they have performed well on the pitch despite an avalanche of financial problems which led to a 10-point penalty at the start of the campaign.
Manager Steven Pressley is in no mood to see a repeat of Coventry’s 6-1 defeat to the same opponents at the Emirates last season and sees it as far more than just a good day out for a club that has fallen on hard times since their 34-year stay in the top flight was ended in 2001.
“We go into every game with the same mentality: we want to win,” the former Scotland defender said, according to Coventry City’s official website. “The last thing we want to do is go down there, take a few pictures of the stadium, stand in owe of their players and be turned over.
"It isn't a day-trip. It is important we keep our focus and stick to what we have worked hard on in training. At the same time, of course the players will be excited by it.”
Where to watch: The FA Cup fourth round match will kick off at 2.45 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by Fox Sports 1, with a live stream available on Fox Soccer 2Go.