A season which initially promised so much for Arsenal, could once again end up in a fruitless campaign which the long-suffering Gunners’ fans have been so accustomed to in recent times. After going through the first half of the season in a brilliant fashion, Arsenal are slowly showing signs of crumbling near the finish line.
March is arguably the most critical month for Arsene Wenger’s side, as they face a ridiculously difficult set of fixtures against their direct Premier League rivals for the title, as well as a daunting away trip to the European Champions, with an impossible looking mission of overturning a two goal deficit.
However, their first task in hand for the Gunners will be facing an impressive Everton side in the FA Cup Quarter Finals, and it could be the clash which will set the tone for Wenger’s side for the upcoming month.
While Arsenal are still theoretically competing in all three fronts, the FA Cup will probably provide the Gunners with the most realistic chance of ending their embarrassing eight-year trophy drought. That being said, Everton, who are led by last season’s FA Cup winning manager Roberto Martinez, will certainly be no pushovers and the Gunners will have to be at their best in order to progress into the semi-finals of the competition.
Despite hardly getting a look-in in the Premier League, Lukasz Fabianski has been the designated goalkeeper for Arsenal in the FA Cup and has been doing a marvelous job. Fabianski was fantastic against Liverpool in the 5th round of the competition and it will only be fair if the 28-year old continues in goal against Everton as well.
Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny have arguably been one of the best centre-back pairing in England this season and the pair should start at the heart of the defence for the Gunners against a dangerous Everton side.
However, Koscielny is a slight doubt for the clash, after picking up a hamstring injury on international duty and if the Frenchman does not recover in time, then captain Thomas Vermaelen will deputize at centre back.
Nacho Monreal is still struggling with a foot injury suffered against Sunderland two weeks ago, which means that Kieran Gibbs will continue at left-back, while it will be interesting to see whether Wenger decides to thrust young Carl Jenkinson at right-back or stick with the experienced Bacary Sagna.
Arsenal were handed a huge blow after it was revealed that Jack Wilshere sustained a fractured foot in the midweek international friendly clash and the midfielder has been ruled out upto six weeks. The England international joins Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott in the casualty list.
It has been reported that Arsenal fans could get a first glimpse of January signing Kim Kallstorm after he returned to training following his mysterious back injury. However, the Swede will be unlikely to start the game.
Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini will probably be starting in midfield, while Mesut Ozil should also return to the starting lineup after sitting out Arsenal’s last two fixtures. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will most likely start as well, on the right flank with Santi Cazorla occupying the left wing. The likes of Lukas Podolski, Serge Gnabry and Tomas Rosicky will also be pushing for a start.
Yaya Sanogo started against Liverpool in the previous round and looked very impressive, and the young man could once again lead the line for the Gunners. However, Olivier Giroud is in fine form as well and considering the magnitude of the game, the more established Frenchman will also be in contention. It will certainly be interesting to see whom Wenger decides to start with in attack come kick-off.
Fabianski; Gibbs, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Jenkinson; Cazorla, Arteta, Flamini, Ozil, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Sanogo