Ian Walton/Getty Images
February 19, 2017
Fresh from their mauling at the hands of Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League in midweek, Arsenal will face an altogether different challenge in the FA Cup fifth round on Monday, as they visit non-league Sutton United.
The Gunners were obliterated at the Allianz Arena, eventually losing 5-1 to the German champions. Manager Arsene Wenger has come in for severe criticism as a result, and while his team will be big favourites to beat the fifth-tier side, it’s not a contest he, nor many of his players, will be relishing.
Sutton’s slender hopes of springing a surprise at Gander Green Lane would have been fuelled as they watched Bayern run amok in the Champions League. After beating Leeds United in the previous round, confidence will be high, and they’ll be out to make things tough for their illustrious rivals.
A fascinating evening is in store at the 5,000 capacity venue. Here is the latest team news for both sides, the key viewing details and a closer look at a contest that epitomises all that’s good about the FA Cup.
Date: Monday, February 20
Time: 7:55 p.m. (GMT), 2:55 p.m. (ET)
TV Info: BBC One (U.K.), FOX Sports 1 (U.S.)
Live Stream: BBC website (U.K.), FOX Soccer 2GO (U.S.)
Sutton: Manager Paul Doswell will have big decisions to make in his starting lineup, with some players set to miss out on the biggest match of their lives. Expect him to keep faith with a lineup as close as possible to the team that beat Leeds in the previous round.
Likely XI: Ross Worner; Kevin Amankwaah, Simon Downer, Jamie Collins, Dan Spence; Maxime Biamou, Craig Eastmond, Nicky Bailey, Adam May; Roarie Deacon, Bedsente Gomis
Arsenal: After such a gruelling night in Munich, expect Wenger to freshen up his squad. Star defender Laurent Koscielny is set to miss out after he hobbled off with a hamstring problem in midweek; Danny Welbeck and Theo Walcott will likely start having impressed in the previous round at Southampton.
Likely XI: David Ospina; Gabriel Paulista, Rob Holding, Per Mertesacker, Kieran Gibbs; Mohamed Elneny, Ainsley Maitland-Niles; Jeff Reine-Adelaide, Lucas Perez, Theo Walcott; Danny Welbeck
Team news courtesy of Tom Doyle of the Evening Standard.
For Sutton, who are down in 17th in the National League, it has never been, nor will it ever likely be, as big as this.
As we can see here courtesy of BigSport, it’s clear just how much this tie is worth to the club, as this was the reaction among supporters when the draw was made:
Sutton United fans react to drawing Arsenal in the #FACup 5th round. Love it 🙌 https://t.co/fggEcuwxG8
1/30/2017, 8:27:35 PM
The win over Leeds, a huge name in their own right, was a very special performance from the fifth-tier side. The lowest-ranked outfit in the competition were on the front foot from the off and eventually capped their dominance with a penalty from Collins in the second period.
Collins slots home to down Leeds.Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
And manager Doswell has offered an insight into the kinds of humble conditions the Gunners will encounter at Gander Green Lane.
“We thought about putting new shower heads in, for about two seconds,” he conceded, per Stephen Creek of Goal. “Then we thought ‘no, we haven’t done that for any of the other teams that have come down’. It’s only because we can’t afford it. The boiler is absolutely shot to pieces. At best they’ll get lukewarm showers.”
Former England international striker Alan Shearer thinks that, with all things considered, the minnows will fancy their chances:
Alan Shearer @alanshearer
If Sutton are watching this they will fancy their chances on Monday! 😳 https://t.co/rhXR14xUIi
2/15/2017, 9:14:18 PM
Arsenal are still massive favourites, though, even after their humbling in Bavaria and with the pressure mounting on Wenger.
Wenger and his team are under pressure.Jean Catuffe/Getty Images
The manager insisted at his press conference on Friday that he’d be fielding a “normal team” for this one; after the recent struggles, that’s understandable, as the FA Cup suddenly looks like the only competition they can realistically win this season.
Sutton will likely fly out of the traps and seek to unsettle their opponents in the early stages of the contest with some direct, physical play. However, when the fixture does eventually settle down, the superior technical ability, in-game intelligence and fitness levels of the Arsenal players will see them through to a comfortable win.
Prediction: Sutton 0-3 Arsenal