Arsene Wenger looks set to rotate his squad from the team that overcame Sunderlan in a 1-0 win last Saturday, as he appears intent upon resting some of his key players ahead of their Champions League clash with Bayern Munich on Tuesday.
Ignasi Miquel, having come on as a late substitute in the win against the Black Cats, looks set to deputize at center back, as Thomas Vermaelen (ankle) and Laurent Koscielnt (calf) continue to struggle with injury.
There are further repercussions from their exertions against Sunderland as Jack Wilshere's dead leg in that tie rules him out of this FA Cup clash. Carl Jenkinson is also ruled out with suspension after his red card in the same game.
Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla and Oliver Giroud are also likely to be rested from the team that started the Sunderland game, with Abou Diaby, Gervinho, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Tomas Rosicky and Lukas Podolski coming in, as their manager clearly has one eye on their Champions League game in midweek.
The biggest matchup in the upcoming Champions League Round of 16 is the battle between Manchester United and Real Madrid. The dominant storyline in this match is the return of Cristiano Ronaldo to face off against his former club. As expected, Ronaldo made his thoughts about the impending tilt clear and he thinks that Madrid is the better club.
"I believe things will go well. In my opinion Read Madrid have a better team, but we have to show that on the pitch because United are a very united team and always have been in recent years," Ronaldo told the official UEFA Champions League magazine. "They're a team that always do well, every year they're at the top and therefore a team we respect a lot. It will be an extremely difficult match, especially in Manchester."
The route to qualification for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations tournament was different for both sides. While the Super Eagles walloped Liberia 6-1, the Stallions needed a stoppage time goal to edge out the Central African Republic 3-3 on aggregate scores.
But that is where the difference ends, and since their 1-1 draw on January 21st, both sides have grown in stature and will now contest the final of the 2013 edition of the Nations Cup with a chance to represent Africa in the FIFA Confederations Cup later this year in Brazil.
Nigeria are strongly fancied to be crowned African football kings for a third time on Sunday by bringing the fairytale run of Burkina Faso to an end. Man for man, the Super Eagles look stronger than the Stallions ahead of the title match at the 85,000 capacity Soccer Stadium in Soweto, a township on the south-west outskirts of Johannesburg.
Hotspur welcome back Emmanuel Adebayor in the nick of time to face Newcastle United at White Hart Lane on Saturday. The Togolese forward has not displayed his best form this season, but his absence at the Africa Cup of Nations was problematic for the Spurs, who are understaffed up front and failed to bring in a striker during the January transfer window. Although there are question marks over Adebayor's fitness, Andre-Villas Boas has stated he will be ready for the game, and it presents a fine opportunity for him to establish himself in the Tottenham side.
Tottenham go into the game having secured a 1-0 victory at The Hawthorns, with Gareth Bale coming up with the crucial goal as Spurs continued their quest for a top four position. Bale starred in a man-of-the-match performance for Wales on Wednesday night, getting on the score-sheet before setting up Sam Vokes’ winner in a 2-1 victory over Austria.
Sunderland host the Gunners on the back of a 2-1 defeat to Reading, but they've managed to avoid losses in their last two home fixtures. The Black Cats boss Martin O'Neill could hand new signing Danny Graham his first starting place, while Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is likely to wait on the fitness of Theo Walcott, who was substituted with an injury during last night's 2-1 victory for England against Brazil at Wembley.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger could face a defensive headache when Barclays Premier League action resumes at Sunderland on Saturday.
The Gunners were already sweating on the fitness of captain Thomas Vermaelen's ankle injury before the players left for international duty, where fellow centre-half Laurent Koscielny limped off during France's defeat to Germany in Paris with a reported calf problem.
Should both men fail to recover in time for the trip to the Stadium of Light, then out-of-favor Sebastien Squillaci or Spanish 20-year-old Ignasi Miquel could have to step in to the heart of the defense alongside Per Mertesacker.