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Preview: Arsenal v Middlesbrough, Team News, Line-Up & Prediction
Arsenal continue the defence of the FA Cup when we entertain Middlesbrough at the Emirates tomorrow afternoon.
We kicked off the competition with a comfortable win over Hull before winning a five-goal thriller against Brighton at the Amex Stadium three weeks ago.
However, I think we could face our toughest test yet against a decent Boro side that got a well-deserved 2-0 victory over Man City at the Etihad in the previous round.
Aitor Karanka’s side play good football and currently top the Championship table, so we certainly shouldn’t be taking them too lightly and that’s something Arsene Wenger has been trying to get across to the players in recent days.
With the likes of City, Chelsea and Spurs already out, we have an excellent opportunity to retain the FA Cup this season so let’s not blow it. A win tomorrow would put us in the quarter finals and on course for a return to Wembley.
Aaron Ramsey has been ruled out for at least two weeks with a hamstring injury that he suffered against Leicester on Tuesday.
Alexis Sanchez is also expected to sit this one out with a knee injury but he should be back to face Palace next weekend.
Jack Wilshere could be back in the squad after returning to full training but I think a place on the bench is the best he can hope for.
Arsene has already confirmed that Wojciech Szczesny will start in goal so he’ll be given another chance to impress and try and win his first team place back.
Gabriel Paulista could make his debut with either Per Mertesacker or Laurent Koscielny rested while the likes of Calum Chambers, Kieran Gibbs and Danny Welbeck will also hope to return to the starting eleven.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Debuchy are still out injured.
This is the side I’d like us to go with. It’s a slight tweak in formation in order to play Ozil centrally while I’d go with pace on the wings with Walcott and Welbeck.
This is one of those awkward games where we should secure a relatively comfortable victory – given that we’re at home to a Championship side – but it’s never that easy in the FA Cup. I think Boro will give us a great game and it will be close up until the final 10-15 minutes when hopefully we can kill the game off with a late third to secure a 3-1 win.
Arsenal 3-1 Middlesbrough