FA Cup - Hull City Home - Saturday 14:45 @ Brazenhead in Fourways, Leaping Frog Centre

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Back to the good old FA Cup. This competition feels like an old friend compared to the stress and struggles in the Premier League. And well it might as it’s been a long time since we lost an FA Cup tie and it’s also been a long time since we have had to leave London to compete. This weekend sees us matched up against Hull City for the third season in a row. I’m sure they are fed up with us, having beaten them in the Final in 2014 and then knocked them out of the competition in the very next game, albeit seven and a half months later. Now, thirteen and a half months after that last tie, we meet once again.

According to a report I found from the Evening Standard online, neither Akpom nor Hayden will be allowed to play this weekend against us. The London newspaper states “FA regulations forbid players from appearing against the lending club regardless of any agreement between the two sides.” One obviously would like to read headlines such as “One of Hull’s main goal scoring threats this season Akpom has been ruled out…..” but to be honest, although he has been doing well there and scoring a hat-trick in their last FA Cup outing, he is leagues behind Hernandez who has scored twenty goals in thirty nine appearances (with 16 from 20 this season), and El Mohamady, Diame and Clucas(???) who have scored as many if not more in the Championship than the Arsenal loanee. Either way, neither he nor Hayden will be playing and hopefully this will upset Steve Bruce’s plans.

Arsenal have got to this round by beating Burnley, another Championship side, and if we are to be honest, they gave us a good run for our money. We now meet a team that are four places above Burnley at the top of the league so it is to be expected that they will be a tougher opposition. So what is in our favour? Well, for one, Hull last played on Tuesday this week and it was against a team third in the Championship so hopefully that’s tired them out a bit. Both Akpom and Hayden came on as substitutes for 20 and 30 minutes respectively but with no effect as the game ended in a 0-0 draw. They also have a match away next Tuesday to Ipswich Town who are eighth in the league so will want to conserve energy for that match and their next weekend match is an early fixture at home on Friday, also against high fliers, Sheffield Wednesday. Personally, if I was Steve Bruce, I would be targeting getting back into the Premier League and I’m sure this will be in his mind when he selects his team for the early Saturday kick-off.

As for The Arsenal, this is the start of the busy run, with Barcelona(H), MFU(A), Swansea(H) and Sp*rs(A) all over the next two weeks. It appears that the only ‘new’ injury is Gabriel who didn’t play against Leicester on the weekend and is unlikely to be back for a couple of weeks at least. There is also a question mark around Koscielny with reports that he was taken off due to a dead leg. Not only have I had one of these but I have also seen reports of dead legs keeping a player out of action for a couple of weeks. Hopefully it is a less serious scenario for Kos and he can start on Saturday. If not then we have Chambers who we probably remember for all the wrong reasons, being that wonder goal he scored against Burnley. Thinking more about this, I can expect Wenger to start Chambers again and may possibly look to field the same XI that started the Burnley game with the BFG swapping out for Kos. The combined speed of these two (if you can combine speed, but you know what I mean) may be a bit of a risk in the centre of the defence, so it may be a case of keeping the BFG and Kos and replacing Bellerin with Chambers – we’ll see what Wenger decides. Elneny was on the bench over the weekend and I would expect him to start with le Coq and as Iwobi has impressed on his last two outings I am sure he will be there in the starting line-up. Our hero of the last game, Welbeck will probably be on the bench again as 11 minutes is unlikely to have made him match fit and he needs to be managed carefully with either Walcott or Giroud starting – safe call that!! There again, they may both start.

So, it’s an early kick-off this Saturday. I didn’t get many requests for the Brazenhead 10% discount card. The offer is still open so please come and ask me this weekend.  It seems that most of our games are on Sundays and therefore this one comes as a pleasant surprise so why don’t y’all treat yourselves and c’mon down to the Brazenhead and have yourselves some fun?