As Arsenal begin another quest to end their long and much-discussed trophy drought when they travel to Swansea for the FA Cup third round, Arsene Wenger has claimed that he will be putting everything into trying to progress.
With Arsenal already 18 points adrift of first place in the Premier League, facing a tough Champions League knockout tie with Bayern Munich and having been dumped out of the League cup by Bradford City, the FA Cup represents by far their best chance of silverware this season.
The last trophy Arsenal won was the FA Cup back in 2005 and Wenger is eager to lift the cup for a fifth time in his tenure.
“It has a special history in England and I have always respected that,” he explained, according to Arsenal’s official website. “I am always sad when we don't win it or when we go out. We will put our maximum effort in on Sunday to win the game.
“I just play the team that I think has the best chance of winning the game, without considering any rotational desire, unless I think one or two players need a breather,” he added. “It will not be based on the fact that it’s purely rotational.”
Before the disappointing draw at Southampton on New Year’s Day, Arsenal’s form had been on the rise. On Sunday, though they face the last team to beat them in the Premier League.
The 2-0 victory at the Emirates in early December was Swansea’s most impressive result to date in what has been an excellent first campaign in charge for Michael Laudrup. The Dane will be getting his first taste of the FA Cup on Saturday.
Laudrup has rotated his side throughout the busy festive period and, with a Capital One Cup semifinal first-leg looming on Wednesday, he has hinted there will be further changes against Arsenal.
Swansea have an almost full squad to choose from, with just long-term injury victim Neil Taylor unavailable.
Arsenal will be without Abou Diaby and Andre Santos as well as goalkeepers Lukasz Fabianski and Vito Mannone.
D: Rangel, Chico, Williams, Tiendalli
M: De Guzman, Ki
Dyer, Michu, Routledge
D: Jenkinson, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Gibbs
Walcott, Cazorla, Podolski
Prediction: Arsenal have every reason to play a strong side as they seek to end their wait for a trophy and have a week off before their next fixture. It is a different scenario for Swansea, with their demanding schedule. A full strength Swansea side would have a good chance of repeating their success of last month, but, with a few changes likely, they may have to settle for a replay.
Swansea 1-1 Arsenal
Where to watch: The FA Cup third round clash will kick-off from the Liberty Stadium at 8.30 a.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by the Fox Soccer Channel, with a delayed online stream available from 1 p.m. via Fox Soccer 2Go.
Sports reporter, mainly focusing on my native sport of soccer, but also dabbling in some tennis and Formula One.