Match Preview: Arsenal v Huddersfield Town
After reaching the Carling Cup final on Tuesday, Arsenal will look to continue their domestic cup run on Sunday at home to Huddersfield Town.
Many will know very little about our opponents who currently sit third in League One, only six points from the top. They are currently unbeaten in five league games although they recently suffered a 4-0 defeat in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy and only had to overcome non-league minnows Dover in the last round of the FA Cup. It is a game that Arsenal are clear favourites for, especially when considering under Arsene Wenger we have never lost to lower league opposition in this competition.
Huddersfield may only have one win out of seventeen against opposition from higher divisions in the cup, but the FA Cup is renowned for upsets and any complacency from Arsenal tomorrow could easily end up as a day we wish to forget.
With a club record eight games already under our belts this January and still chasing glory on four fronts, Wenger will make use of his 25 man squad. The last time we rotated significantly against Leeds it is fair to say the performance was hugely disappointing, with the game only being saved by the introduction of Fabregas and Walcott. Tomorrow offers another chance for some of the fringe players and squad players to show they are better than that and worthy of a place in our starting eleven. In particular Arshavin needs to continue trying to regain his form but more importantly the emirates crowd needs to support him. He is going through a serious bad patch but hopefully with a few goals in games like these where his talent can easily destroy lower league defences, he will begin to regain some spark. Another player in need of a goal is Chamakh. He will start tomorrow and after a fantastic start to his Arsenal career he has suffered a burn out and now a lack of goals. With Van Persie returning to form and fitness he will have to settle for less game time but tomorrow will provide him with some much needed game time where he can try to get back amongst the goals.
There a few notable returnees to the squad. Diaby returns from an ankle injury suffered at Wigan, Rosicky has recovered from the flu and Squillaci’s hamstring has healed from the last round at home to Leeds. Perhaps more surprisingly is the return of Almunia from the brink of exit after a four-month lay off. He returns to the squad as a reserve after Wenger confirmed Szczesny as our number one for now. It appears Almunia will be forced to stay until the summer as Fabianski’s shoulder injury continues to keep him out.
Along with Fabianski, Vermaelen is still around six weeks away from a return and Sagna is rested after suffering concussion in the midweek victory over Ipswich.
Predicted Starting XI
Eboue – Squillaci – Koscielny – Gibbs
Diaby – Denilson – Rosicky
Bendtner – Chamakh – Arshavin
From an Arsenal perspective the most notable absentee for Huddersfield is 17 year old striker Benik Afobe, who is on loan from us. Wenger has already shown how he allowed his loaned players to play against us with Sanchez Watt playing against us in the last round. However complex rules about youth loans mean he is ineligible to play.
Huddersfield’s leading goal scorer, Jordan Rhodes will miss out after being ruled out with ankle ligament damage. He adds to their injury list of Gary Naysmith (toe) and Damien Johnson (knee).
A win tomorrow would see Arsenal progress into the last 16 and stay in the hunt for all four available trophies.