When you’re chasing an improbable quadruple the last thing you want is a midweek trip to a bouncing Elland Road in an FA Cup replay. That’s the task that stands in front of Arsenal after Cesc Fabregas’ late penalty salvaged a tie that looked beyond them after Robert Snodgrass’ 54th minute penalty.
Despite the 1-1 draw at the Emirates 10 days ago and last weeks Carling Cup loss at Portman Road Wenger is still expected to rotate his squad, with Saturday’s visit of Wigan very much in his thoughts. One player who is certain to start is Wojciech Szczesny. The 20 year old will retain his place in goal due to Lukasz Fabianski’s continued absence with a shoulder injury, and does so with the backing of the Arsenal fans thanks to some very composed and promising performances. Szczesny hopes his form will be enough to guarantee him the starting berth even when his fellow countryman returns:
“The manager shows faith in me, so I believe I am ready. Any time get a chance I will try to prove him I am ready.”
He also expressed his excitement at returning to Elland Road, where he picked up the man of the match award when playing for Brentford last season,
“It is quite a loud ground, but I enjoy the atmosphere, it gives you a bit more motivation and keeps you focused. I enjoy the games at the big stadiums with big crowds.”
Elsewhere it is believed that Wenger will persevere with his policy of playing substitutes and squad players in the cup competitions. Marouane Chamakh has been relegated to the bench since Robin Van Persie’s return, but he will be tasked with leading the line again this evening. Nicklas Bendtner and Andrei Arshavin are likely to complete the front line for the visitors. Bacary Sagna is available for selection again, after serving the third and final game of the ban he picked up in the 0-0 home draw with Manchester City.
For the hosts the main concern is the health of their leading scorer Luciano Becchio. The Argentine suffered a back injury in Saturday’s 4-0 win over Scunthorpe and is unlikely to feature from the start. Sanchez Watt definitely will play, and he hopes to follow up on his excellent performance at the Emirates when he faces his parent club for the second time in as many weeks:
“We’re going into the game with a lot of confidence and I hope we can win. I want to play to the best of my ability and I want to score.”
If Leeds are able to defy the odds and progress to the fourth round they will be rewarded with a home tie against local rivals Huddersfield. For Arsenal victory would be another step on the road to ending their six year trophy drought.