FA Cup replays, although popular with punters taking a risk with bet365 football promotions, are always frustrating fixtures to play as the footballing calendar grows increasingly compact heading into spring and the re-emergence of the Champions League, so boss Arsene Wenger will not be pleased his side have to play another 90 minutes on Wednesday night.
Sitting comfortably is not a status often afforded to Arsenal this season and although we scored two late goals to take the lead against Swansea two weeks back, there was still a real concern we would not see the game out.
Indeed, Danny Graham’s poached finish just minutes from time may have wider repercussions than simply a third-round replay, for Wenger must now balance his Arsenal side through six fixtures in three weeks before the arrival of Bayern Munich next month, with the Gunners already not being favoured by neutral betting fans in the football betting odds.
It could even be eight games if the Gunners progress in the FA Cup, meaning this Swansea clash on Wednesday night may witness some squad rotation from the defeat against Manchester City. Laurent Koscielny will miss the game through suspension so Per Mertesacker will have to start, while Wenger is unlikely to play Abou Diaby after he lasted just an hour on Sunday – Aaron Ramsey coming in.
Yet what Arsenal fans will most want to see is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain get a run out after he was sacrificed following Koscielny’s dismissal. Oxlade-Chamberlain could have provided the pace to get past Man City’s defence and his loss was felt in our midfield.
Against Swansea – who will come forward as they showed at the Emirates in December – Oxlade-Chamberlain will be afforded the space and time to work his magic down the flanks. With Gervinho on Africa Cup of Nations duty, Olivier Giroud should be given a chance up front, with Theo Walcott on the bench just in case.
As for Swansea, expect Michael Laudrup to make five or six changes to his XI but nothing different from the quality performance they put in at the Emirates last month. The FA Cup clash will be tough and if Wenger wants to win a trophy this season his side must be ready for the test.