By Bulldog Drummond.
The illness question is the most puzzling part of today’s game: Danny Welbeck and Alex Iwobi are said to be down with it. Mesuz Ozil (as WhoScored now have him listed) seems to have had it twice, has recovered, but is on the Physioroom sick list and out for weeks. All very odd.
Laurent Koscielny’s sending off against Bayern doesn’t affect the FA Cup, so he will almost certainly be there. The issue of Ospina’s minor injury has been raised, the Ox is said to be in revolt, Theo also has the bug… in short there is a huge attempt going on to make Arsenal look like it is in an absolute muddle. And those who want to believe that, will of course. But generally the simplest explanation is the one that is right (that theory is known as Occam’s razor, and its been around since the 14th century). Yep, it is all down to aliens.
In the FA Cup our record is second to none – one defeat in the last 20 FA Cup games. As for Lincoln they have come through six rounds to get this far, having started in the fourth qualifying round. Last season they made it to the first round proper where they went out to Whitehawk of the National League south, 3-5. The year before they also went out in the first round proper to Eastleigh.
So this season is quite an upturn for Lincoln, and it is interesting that just a year ago the supporters were very anxious indeed to get the ownership and management moved on because of their poor performance. It was ever thus.
As for today, of course huge cup upsets can happen – and I am sure somewhere someone is talking about Arsenal and Walsall (although probably without knowing any of the details about the team or the conditions the game was played in, or come to that any other upsets of the era) or any other match they want to pick. Headlines abound such as
- Arsene Wenger’s most humiliating defeats as Arsenal manager …
- Arsene Wenger’s 15 most humiliating defeats at Arsenal
- Arsene Wenger’s 20 Worst Defeats as Arsenal Manager
- Arsenal’s five heaviest defeats under Arsene Wenger
- Arsenal’s biggest defeats under Arsene Wenger
- Arsenal were embarrassed by Monaco defeat
- Wenger hits new low after Arsenal’s embarrassing defeat at Bradford
- Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger slams youngsters after EFL Cup defeat
There are even articles doing the rounds about Wrexham 2 Arsenal 1, but you also don’t hear about Bournemouth 2 Man U 0 in 1984, Liverpool 0 Wimbledon 1 in 1988, Sutton 2 Coventry 1 (although it got mentioned before the last round), Man City 0 Wigan 1 (2013)… If the result is not 15-0 to Arsenal then it will be an embarrassment. If it is 15-0 it will be our fault for stopping the game being an enjoyable spectacle and being churlish.
In short, whatever it is, it is Arsenal’s fault.
As for the game, Lincoln can’t play Lee Angol on loan from Peterborough because he is cup tied. And apparently they have been doing a bit of rotation for this game: Nathan Arnold and Matt Rhead were on the beach in their midweek game but are said to be returning.
The Lincoln manager Danny Cowley actually handled the situation far better than the media. Speaking of Mr Wenger he said, “He’s forgotten more than I know. He’s a pioneer. We’ve got huge respect for him as a man and as a manager.”
And here’s one that I missed out in the first part of the preview, when looking at all the past results between the two and coming up with those funny coincidental scores and dates: Lincoln never won away to Woolwich Arsenal, or The Arsenal, losing 10 and drawing three of 13 matches.
We’ve only lost one FA Cup tie against a lower league club with Mr Wenger in charge – that against Blackburn in 2013, when they were in the Championship. That was in the 5th round. The last time we lost to non-league opposition in the Cup was 1911, when Swindon of the Southern League defeated Woolwich Arsenal.
Arsenal were in the first division at the time, and ended the season 10th, but the defeat was not seen as particularly exceptional, as the Southern League at the time was seen as a very strong alternative to the Football League. It attracted many disaffected Football League players who wanted to avoid the “retain and transfer” system that Arsenal’s court case against one of its own players, had introduced in 1893.
I wrote earlier about Mr Wenger’s success in the competition. One more stat to add to this: Arsenal under Wenger have reached the quarter final of the FA Cup 12 times, and have made it to the semi-finals on 10 of those past occasions. Not too bad a record.
And one more: Theo Walcott (assuming he is not ill like everyone else) should score, as he has scored six times in his last four FA Cup appearances.
But finally a word of warning about Lincoln: they scored with their only shot on target against Burnley in the last round.
Well, the question mark is probably the most apposite bit of this but I will go with
Bellerin Mustafi Koscielny Gibbs
Theo The Ox Alexis
Man of the match: of course it has to be referee Anthony Taylor. He will make it so.
Lurking on the beach: This time this is a particularly tough call. I don’t really know what Mr Wenger is going to do here. We could see any of these….
Cech, Jenkinson, Debuchy, Mertesacker, Gabriel, Holding, Monreal, Maitland-Niles, Ramsey, Özil, Reine-Adélaïde, Pérez
Now that is 12 and we can only use seven. But it is also possible that one or two younger players might actually play: Maitland-Niles for example. Pérez could also play. In short, I haven’t got the faintest idea.
So no change there.
- Arsenal v the rest of the universe. The injuries, the curious case of Ozil’s illness, and the quotes.
- Lincoln City at the Arsenal: historic coincidences, out of date websites, last minute signings…
- Arsenal in the FA Cup; change of rules, change of name, the heritage, the records