Arsene Wenger says his Arsenal side are relishing the chance to make amends for their 5-1 humbling at the hands of Liverpool last weekend when the two sides meet again in the FA Cup fifth round at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday. Despite going into the encounter at Anfield top of the Premier League, Arsenal were torn apart in the opening stages and found themselves 4-0 down after just 20 minutes. Having bounced back with a nervy goalless draw against Manchester United in midweek, Wenger believes there is no better way to put last week’s horror show behind them than by taking on the same opponents.
“I would say it is the first team we want to play," he said, according to Arsenal’s official website. "When you can put things right, you want an opportunity to do that and we have an opportunity.
"We have got it out of our systems because our main frailty at Liverpool was that we conceded goal after goal in 20 minutes. On Wednesday night we came back to our usual defensive stability. But these guys are winners. When they lose in that way, believe me, they are hurt."
Arsenal will be boosted by the return from suspension of Mathieu Flamini on Sunday, although Santi Cazorla could well miss out having been laid low with an illness. With the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie with Bayern Munich coming up on Wednesday, Wenger also didn’t rule out making a few changes to his lineup.
“I will play a team [against Liverpool] with a good opportunity, a good chance to qualify,” he explained. “Will I rest one player, or two or three, I don’t know yet. Certainly we will have just have one focus, which is to win the game.
“We have rotated quite well, if you look at the number of players we have used. I have the same level of confidence in every player.”
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has no such conflict of priorities heading into the encounter and is determined to maximize his side’s chances of going all the way in the FA Cup this season. With no European action at Anfield this campaign, Rodgers is keen to improve on what has thus far been a poor record in the domestic cup competitions during in his 18 months in charge.
"We want to win the FA Cup," he said, according to Liverpool’s official website. "That's our objective. We've got no midweek game [after the Arsenal match] so we can go as strong as we wish to go.
"It's probably different for Arsenal, who have a massive game after ourselves in the Champions League, so they may have to look at it differently. We won't need to rest anybody.
“We want to do it for the club. Since I've been here, we have changed the squad around in order to try and help us in the league. When I have made too many changes, we haven't been good enough and that's seen us go out of tournaments earlier than I would want. This year, we wanted to do well in the cup competitions -- hence the reason why we've been strong.”
Liverpool could well field a stronger lineup than they did in a 3-2 win at Fulham on Wednesday, with Daniel Agger potentially set to start after making his return from injury off the bench at the Hawthorns and Glen Johnson with an outside chance of being involved.
Where to watch: The FA Cup fifth round tie will kick off at 11 a.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by Fox Sports 2, with a live stream available via a free trial to Fox Soccer 2Go.