FA Cup Preview: Arsenal Another Step From Ending Trophy Drought, 2013 FA Cup Final Rematch, More

IMAGE, ARSENAL.COM

By MATTHEW LEVINE
Staff Writer

The years keep rolling on and Arsenal have yet to add to their trophy cabinet since winning the FA Cup in 2005. That nine year drought continues to hang around like a black cloud.

Can the 2014 FA Cup bookend these cursed years?

As Premier League form trends downward and a 2-0 hole remains to overturn Bayern Munich in the Champion’s League, the FA Cup represents the Gunners best chance at silverware this season. With Everton and Manchester City the biggest threats to Arsenal’s chances, the Gunners can dispel one of those clubs this weekend. Arsenal will look to add Everton to the list of names they have knocked off so far during their cup run.

After a poor performance last weekend in the league against Stoke, Arsenal will need to up their game if they are to overcome the Toffees. One player who needs to start is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. His arrival in the game (although Arsenal couldn’t equalize) changed the tempo of the Gunners attack and created some of the club’s best moments.

With Jack Wilshere’s recent injury, Wenger may decide to play Chamberlain in the middle of the park. However, leaving him to use his pace on the right flank, giving the Gunners width, seems better served for the cause. A combination of Tomas Rosicky, Mesut Ozil, Mathieu Flamini and Mikel Arteta should roam the middle of the park.

For Everton, even though Romelu Lukaku has only just returned from an injury, his impact was shown just as fast. Scoring the game winner against West Ham in the Premier League last weekend keeps Everton’s hopes from Top Four in the balance. His combination of pace and power will be just what the Toffees need to break down the Arsenal backline.

Another factor in this match is where it’s taking place. Everton have been a much better team at home, but unfortunately for the Toffees, this match is to be played at the Emirates. They’ve lost their last three on their travels and have won once in six attempts in the league. The Gunners were able to dispatch one Liverpudlian side at home in the FA Cup, beating Liverpool 2-1. Arsenal will look to do that again to continue their cup run.

What Else Look For

1. FA Cup Rematch– Manchester City has already hoisted one cup this season, beating Sunderland in the Capital One Cup. Now, they will face off against the team that beat them in the final of this competition last year.

Wigan, now playing in the Championship, are again looking to play the role of David to City’s Goliath. Improbably doing it last year in the final, it would take an even more enormous effort to pull it off a second time.

Although City has fallen a bit in the league, they still have games to play. They showed in the League Cup how devastating they are. With an attacking front featuring a mending and healthier Sergio Aguero and Yaya Toure bossing the midfield, City should be able to continue their push for more trophies.

2. Cup Luck Running Out For Black Cats– Although their league form has stuttered for most of this season, Sunderland have performed admirably in the domestic cups. Reaching the final and taking the lead against City had them looking like they would pull of a shock victory.

However, the wheels fell off and after two successive goals, Sunderland’s dreams of the League Cup vanished. With their luck running out in the final, will it carry over into this cup run? Also, will Jozy Altidore remain out of the squad for a second cup game in a row? After traveling to Cyprus midweek, it wouldn’t be surprising if he again is not in the starting XI. Still, it would definitely be a shock if he was left out altogether.

Hull City will be their opponents. The Tigers last match saw them get thrashed by Newcastle on the pitch. Most memorably, they were also swept up into the controversy in the now infamous Alan Pardew headbutt incident. Hull will need to shake off the emotions of last week and focus on what is a very winnable game to get to the semifinals.

3. Lower Leagues Tussle– Sheffield United is the lowest division side remaining in the competition. The FA Cup is know for producing magic. Can it produce again with a semifinal visit to Wembley for the Blades?

Their opponent will be Championship side Charlton Athletic; a club teetering on the edge of joining the Blades in League One next season.

Sheffield United and Charlton represent the only lower division sides still left in the FA Cup. At least one of them will play in the semifinal and will look to take a scalp off of one of the big boys in the next round.