Where does the FA Cup fit into Arsenal’s season?
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has sacrificed the FA Cup in recent years but after drawing Tottenham in the third round, can he afford to do the same again?
Wenger has rotated his teams for the competition in the past few seasons which have led to his side being tamely knocked out of a competition in which he and the club have a great tradition.
The 1-0 home defeat to Blackburn last season was a major embarrassment and led to many fans questioning his position.
The defeats to Manchester United and Stoke in 2011 and 2012 were equally painful to watch but all the games featured a weakened Arsenal team as Wenger prioritised a top four finish in the league over the cup.
But unlike the previous seasons, Arsenal are genuine contenders and the prize of the league title for the first time since 2004 is a tantalising target.
There’s no doubt Wenger would have rotated his team again this season for the FA Cup but after drawing Tottenham he may have to re-think his plans.
Arsenal currently sit five points clear at the top of the league and have secured their place in the knock-out stages of the Champions League.
The latter competition will not start up again until February but after finishing as runners-up in the group, a tough tie awaits and the first leg would be days after the FA Cup fourth round.
Arsenal now travel to Manchester City before hosting Chelsea pre-Christmas followed by trips to West Ham and Newcastle and ending the festive period with a home game against Cardiff.
This period of fixtures could make-or-break Arsenal’s season and if they are still top of the pile after the Cardiff game then the league title is definitely achievable.
There’s no doubt the festive period will be physically gruelling for the players and Wenger will need to rotate the team in order to keep the players fresh for the business end of the season.
The FA Cup tie with Spurs comes three days after the Cardiff game so Wenger must decide if the league takes priority over the cup once again.