Arsenal will continue their attempt to retain the FA Cup for a third year running this weekend, as they host Championship side Burnley.
The Gunners are hoping to pick up the mood at the Emirates following last Sunday’s disappointing defeat to Chelsea, which confirmed a drop in form for Arsene Wenger’s side.
Burnley on the other hand will be itching to get into this one following their impressive 4-1 victory to fellow play-off hopefuls Derby County on Monday night.
Both sides are at the better half of their respected tables, and have performed well all season so this will by no means be an easy test for the home side.
Arsene Wenger reiterated in his press conference that Burnley consisted of players that have all played in the Premier League, after they were relegated from the top division last season.
This is a game that both sides will want to get under their belts from the off, and with Arsenal’s confidence looking lower than usual, Burnley could fancy their chances.
The game has come too soon for Danny Welbeck, but the striker is now back in full training and will pick up a couple of youth games to pick up match fitness.
Back in contention to start this weekend are all three of Alexis, Francis Coquelin and Thomas Rosicky after lengthy spells on the sidelines.
Arsene Wenger has admitted that David Ospina will start the game and Mohamed Elneny is in contention to make his first Gunners appearance.
The only players that remain on the injury list are Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere, with the Englishman expected to be the first back to action.
There will be a last minute decision on midfielder Dean Marney as he aims to shake off a slight calf injury, so former Premier League star Joey Barton is expected to start.
Meanwhile, goalkeeper Matt Gilks is still working on an elbow injury he picked up in training, meaning new signing Paul Robinson is set to start on the bench.
Also missing the FA Cup action are long term absentees Ashley Barnes and Lukas Jutkiewicz who suffered cruciate ligament injuries earlier in the season.
One To Watch
Arsenal: David Ospina
With Burnley firing goals in week after week in the Championship Ospina may have a busier afternoon then some of you might have thought. They’ve got nothing to lose and the last time Ospina ran out for the Gunners he had a shocking performance that led to Dinamo Zagreb putting three past him. This is a real test to show Arsenal fans he still has the quality, after Wenger confirmed he is in line to the clubs new number one in the not so distant future.
Burnley: Andre Gray
Currently way out in front of the clubs top goalscorer ranks with 15 in all competitions, Andre Gray has been the focal point in Burnley’s attempt to get back into the Premier League. He’s currently got two goals in his last five games and is a hard worker when it comes to helping out his side. Gray has featured at in non-league football for the majority of his career so he knows how big an occasion it is to come to the Emirates, and with all eyes watching he’ll be keen to show the crowd what he can do.
Last Time Out:
Burnley 0 – 1 Arsenal
Aaron Ramsey’s goal edged out the home side during last years Premier League tie, where Arsene Wenger played one of his strongest sides of the campaign. These Burnley players are tough and will have the performance in their memory still, so know how Arsenal like to play.
If there is any chance of them causing an upset they will have to try and match Arsenal’s intensity, otherwise an early goal could end their big day out. Manager Sean Dyche likes his players to assertive from the off so don’t expect an easy ride for these players.
Following a run of games that stretch back before December, Petr Cech will be rested which will make way for David Ospina to take charge of duties between the sticks.
In front of him will be a slightly different back four to what we’ve seen for most of the season, with Gabriel coming in to replace the suspended Per Mertesacker. There is also expectancy to see Kieran Gibbs at left full-back which should be a straightforward switch for Wenger to make.
Mohamed Elneny is in line to make his first Gunners appearance, and he is likely to partner Aaron Ramsey at central midfield, with the new signing playing as more of a defensively minded player.
Our attacking three poses a threat to anyone, and this is a nice game for Alexis to start and get at least 60 minutes under his belt. He’ll join Mesut Ozil and Joel Campbell in the front three, with Theo Walcott dropping to the bench following Sunday’s poor show.
Up top will be Olivier Giroud who is fired up to tuck home some goals after he was controversially taken off against Chelsea due to Mertesacker’s red card, he’s rested and raring to go.
Arsenal Predicted XI: Ospina, Bellerin, Gabriel, Koscielny, Gibbs, Elneny, Ramsey, Campbell, Ozil, Alexis, Giroud
Sean Dyche won’t want to tamper too much with a squad that have scored 14 goals in their last four games, and Tom Heaton is safe in goal despite the arrival of former England keeper Paul Robinson.
Matthew Lowton and Stephen Ward will be in charge of the full-back positions, and with that having the responsibility of keeping tabs on the returning Alexis Sanchez.
Looking at central defence, Giroud will have to work his way through Michael Keene and Ben Mee, who have built a steady partnership in the role.
Burnley like to play with a classic 4-4-2 formation and in charge of tracking down the through balls of Mesut Ozil is the familiar names of George Boyd and Joey Barton.
David Jones joins that duo in controlling the central midfield area, and will work as a pivot point to Burnley’s counter attacking options which are inevitable in a game like this.
Scott Arfield, Sam Vokes and Andre Gray complete the line-up and Dyche could be considering dropping the two back a bit and playing Gray as a lone striker.
Burnley Predicted XI: Heaton, Lowton, Mee, Keene, Ward, Boyd, Jones, Barton, Arfield, Vokes, Gray
All of the action kicks off from 3pm on Saturday afternoon, however the game is not being shown live on TV, but you can catch all of the highlights on the BBC later in the evening.