When the draw for the fifth round will be made later this Monday evening, Saints, Chelsea, Manchester City, Tottenham & Swansea City will not be in the hat having all been dumped out of the fourth round at home, losing their games on Saturday.
Having struggled to beat Championship Bolton at home, Liverpool could be trotted out as well, while Man Utd could get a shocker at Old Trafford from the Cambridge’s part-timers. Call it being ahead of oneself or jumping the gun, it does not appear there will be much in Arsenal’s way not to have a good go at retaining the Cup come May.
Wenger was hesitant in agreeing to this but surely it must very much be on his mind now just as it was last year. Though he had to knock Tottenham and Liverpool out himself, with City being dumped by Wigan, he will know the job has been made a bit easier for him now with just Liverpool and United hanging on for a replay.
Quizzed as to Arsenal now being favorites, the ever cautious Wenger wouldn’t spill on Arsenal.com
“With yesterday’s [Saturday] results you would be a bit cautious.” Wenger said
“The cup is the cup – what you want is to focus on the next round to go through. We have a good experience from last season to know that every round is difficult. The most difficult games were not especially the expected ones last season, so let’s wait for the draw. Of course we’ll fight and we want to retain our cup but there’s too long to go to say [that Arsenal are favourites].”
The Arsenal manager may not admit it but none of the 15 teams remaining in the competitions would actually want to draw the Gooners, not even Bradford. They may have gone to Chelsea and done them but Phil Parkinson’s particular choice of wanting to “have a go” at United if they made it past Cambridge attests to a superior deference for the Gooners and in the form in which Wenger’s team are, you wouldn’t blame him.
An attacking squad that looks better by the game, not least by the irresistibility of her creative players, Tomas Rosicky following up from Santi Cazorla’s perfect game at City. It had been suggested that good fortune played its part in handing Arsenal the trophy last season having played no game outside of London but the nature of the gritty win at Sussex showed the Gooners still bear the ambition to return to Wembley in May even if they have to pick the pieces on the road.
That could mean having to go to places like Merseyside or Manchester, or to Birmingham to play Villa or West Brom or to any other of the 9 lower league clubs left in the round including Preston or Blackburn – the last club to defeat the Gooners in the FA Cup.
That next opponent will be known today and after Valentine, the Gooners could be ONLY three games away.
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