As if February was not hard enough. Arsenal, who have a home tie with Manchester United sandwiched between a trip to Anfield and the first leg of our Champions League clash with Bayern Munich – all within 11 days – must now fit in another clash with Liverpool after the FA Cup fifth-round draw was made on Sunday.
Four games in 11 days is tough but these four games is near ridiculous. Not even the most optimistic of fans who bet on football are backing us to win all four, and it will be interesting to see how manager Arsene Wenger guides his team through this tricky schedule.
The first is a booby trap waiting to happen. Liverpool are free scoring at Anfield and although we comfortably beat them 2-0 earlier this season, this clash will be no easy affair. Luis Suarez has his tail up and defensive duo, Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny, must keep him at bay.
Indeed, the pair are the keystone to Wenger’s plans over this coming month, for if Mertesacker and Koscielny can stay fit we might just come through unscathed.
They must next handle Robin van Persie at our place – something Thomas Vermaelen failed to do last time – while the midfield will be introduced to Jose Mourinho’s double agent, Juan Mata, who this week signed for United for £37.5m.
With the visit of Bayern coming after a second clash with Liverpool, Wenger must decide how seriously he wants to win the FA Cup. Thankfully, the draw has also pitted Man City against Chelsea, so victory over Liverpool means Arsenal have just one realistic rival for the trophy.
Wenger is of course going to play full-strength sides in the league, but should he sacrifice a potential spanking at the hands of Bayern for safe passage into the FA Cup quarter-finals? It’s a decision that will keep the boss awake this month and one many football betting punters would like to see made , for with the greatest will in the world the Gunners have a better chance of winning the FA Cup than making the Champions League last-eight.
Guest post brought to you by M. Weaver
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