Premier League leaders Arsenal will welcome League One side Coventry City to the Emirates Stadium for the FA Cup fourth round clash on Friday night (11:45 AM Pacific, 19:45 GMT).
Arsenal have been performing out of their skins in the Premier League to hold on to the top spot, and with Manchester City and Chelsea constantly breathing down their necks, the Gunners will certainly view the FA Cup tie as a welcome distraction.
Coventry City are the visitors for the tie, and given the nature of the FA Cup, the Gunners will certainly take the Sky Blues seriously. That being said though, Wenger could take the opportunity to rest some first team players and give a couple of fringe players much needed game-time.
Currently lying in midtable in the League One, mainly due to the 10-point deduction handed to them at the start of the season, Coventry City only have a slim chance of finishing in the play-off spots, while they will not be overly concerned by the fear of relegation.
Therefore, Steven Pressley’s men should head into the clash to the Emirates with a feeling of nothing to lose with the FA Cup, their only chance of winning a silverware this season. Even though there is a chance that the Sky Blues could be at the end of a hammering, they will have a right-go at Arsenal and try to win the game or force a replay.
Arsene Wenger is surely set to shuffle his side for the clash. Lukasz Fabianski will replace Wojciech Szczesny in goal, while the likes of Kieran Gibbs and Carl Jenkinson will probably be deployed in the full-back positions, in place of Nacho Monreal and Bacary Sagna. Captain Thomas Vermaelen is still out with injury, which means that Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker look set to continue at central defence.
Mikel Arteta and Theo Walcott are still out with injuries, while Aaron Ramsey is a doubt for the clash. Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla could be handed rests with Jack Wilshere and Tomas Rosicky coming in for the duo. Serge Gnabry most probably will retain his place in the starting lineup while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain looks set to make his first start in over 5 months after returning from injury.
Lukas Podolski looks like the likely candidate to replace Olivier Giroud in leading the line for the Gunners as Nicklas Bendtner and Yaya Sanogo are still ruled out.
Coventry City have enjoyed a fairly good season so far and young manager Steven Pressley has been earning rave reviews for the job he has been doing at the club. The 40-year old will now surely want to do his burgeoning reputation a world of good by earning a scalp against the Gunners, and he will put up his strongest side on Friday night.
Joe Murphy looks set to start in goal, while the likes of Cyrus Christie, Blair Adams, Andy Webster and Daniel Seaborne will be the most probable back-four. Inspirational captain Carl Baker has been fantastic for Coventry this season and will be the creative force for the Sky Blues with Conor Thomas, John Fleck and Jordan Clarke completing the midfield.
The prolific duo of Leon Clarke and Franck Moussa ,who have scored an impressive 33 goals this season, could be leading the line for the Coventry and they will certainly give the Arsenal defence a couple of problems.
Arsenal (Probable XI): Fabianski; Gibbs, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Jenkinson; Gnabry, Wilshere, Flamini, Rosicky, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Podolski
Coventry City (Probable XI): Murphy; Christie, Adams, Webster, Seaborne; Baker, Thomas, J. Clarke, Fleck; L. Clarke, Moussa
Arsenal: W W W W W
Coventry City: D W W D D
26/9/2012 Arsenal 6 – 1 Coventry City (League Cup)
Arsenal vs Coventry City Prediction
Arsenal will head into the game as clear favourites, given their imperious form and also due to the fact that the two sides are separated by 55 positions across the English footballing ladder. Arsenal are currently on a six match winning run, Coventry City will have to put in a heroic effort to stop the rampaging Arsenal juggernaut.
The Sky Blues are in good form themselves though, having been unbeaten in their last six, but Arsenal certainly provide them with a completely different proposition. The Gunners are almost unstoppable if they are allowed to play and Coventry should look to ruffle a few Arsenal feathers by imposing themselves early on in the game.
Although it will not be a walk in the park for the Gunners, they should be able to register a comfortable victory at the end. Arsenal 3 – 1 Coventry City.
Arsenal vs Coventry City TV Info
The match will be televised on Fox Sports 1 USA, and BT Sport 1 (UK).