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Work rate to go with the acrobatics?

FA Cup returns to the menu as Arsenal kick off their campaign against Leeds United. The opposition may only be a Championship team but their history means that we have to treat this match seriously. Since their glory days of getting in the Champions League semifinal, Leeds have plummet down the ranks of English football. Dropping into League One before their promotion last season.

They are also doing well in the Championship, sitting pretty in fifth place with a chance of getting to at least the play-off spots. Under Simon Grayson, they are playing the type of football which we can apreciate. How strong a side they will put out will depend on where their priorities lies. One player who could feature is Sanchez Watt. The Arsenal man is currently on loan at Leeds and has Arsene Wenger’s approval to play in this game, which will effectively end any possible participation in this competition for Arsenal in the latter stages, should we progress. Wenger though is hoping that Watt do not make an impression.

I don’t watch enough of Leeds to know who their danger-man is and who they will probably start with. Luckily enough, my knowledge for Arsenal is better. Wenger will most likely rest his key players for this game and treat it like a Carling Cup game. That would mean more than the 8 changes that he made to start the Wigan game last week. Those who were on the bench should most likely replace those on the pitch. With that in mind, here’s my stab at the possible line-up;

Szczesny

Eboue—Squillaci—Djourou—Gibbs

Rosicky—Denilson—Eastmond

Bendtner—Chamakh—Arshavin

That will still mean plenty of options from the bench. Young Guns reported that Ignasi Miquel will be on the bench at least. That would still leave 6 more places to be filled by the likes of Lukasz Fabianski, Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, Carlos Vela and Aaron Ramsey. I do wonder if Wenger will play Vela from the start, thus giving the Mexican an opportunity to showcase his talents and attract more than the 10 clubs who are already interested to take him on loan.

The same could also be said of Emmanuel-Thomas (JET). Wenger wants the multi talented Englishman to get some match experience in the same way as Jack Wilshere got his last season. To me, the first thing is to find his best position and stick with it. The boy has played numerous positions over the year and it is hard to push senior players when he does not know who he is challenging. The latest position for JET is the attacking central/wide man and he does look very good in that role, highlighted by his consistent scoring record for the reserves.

This will be also a chance for Nicklas Bendtner and Andrey Arshavin to show that they also deserve a run in the first team. Particularly the Russian who seems to have his place taken by Theo Walcott. His last two substitution appearances has seen an improved workrate from him and it should be continued if he has any plans of getting in the best starting line-up for Arsenal. This also represent another match for the Danish-Russian combination to gel. They showed in flashes against Wigan that they can strike up a good understanding and hopefully we’ll see more of that in this game.

The FA Cup is still a very good competition to win. The glamour of the competition may have lost its lustre over recent years but supporters will tell you otherwise. No one minds a trip to Wembley for a cup final in May. Whichever side Wenger puts out, it should be good enough to dispose of Leeds United and progress to the next stage of the competition. Here’s to a good game.

More tomorrow.

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