Arsenal v Lincoln City: FA Cup Quarter-Final Match Preview
Arsenal host Lincoln City in the Quarter-Finals of the FA Cup at the Emirates Stadium this afternoon (5.30pm kick-off UK time).
The FA Cup represents 12 time winners Arsenal’s last chance of silverware this season.
Tuesday night’s exit from the UEFA Champions League at the last 16 stage at the hands of Bayern Munich was inevitable after losing the first leg of the tie 5-1 in Bavaria.
To also lose Tuesday’s second leg 5-1 at the Emirates Stadium heaped further embarrassment onto the club.
It meant a last 16 exit from the competition for the seventh season in a row.
The 10-2 aggregate was the worst defeat suffered by an English side in the Champions League.
Only one Champions League tie has seen a greater margin of victory for a team – again involving Bayern Munich, who beat Sporting Lisbon 12-1 on aggregate in 2009.
It was Arsenal’s biggest home defeat at the Emirates Stadium and the heaviest loss since November 1998 (5-0 against Chelsea in the League Cup at Highbury).
The Gunners are also 16 points behind leaders Chelsea in the Premier League.
The 3-1 defeat against Liverpool at Anfield last Saturday was their 5th Premier League defeat in matches.
It leaves the Gunners in 5th place in the Premier League table and in a scrap to finish in the top four places to qualify for the Champions League.
The spotlight remains on Arsene Wenger’s future and this speculation has once again dominated the build-up for Arsenal to the match.
And will continue to do so until a decision is taken on whether will sign the new two-year contract offered or not
Lincoln City on the other hand arrive for the match in high spirits.
They are the first non-league to reach the last 8 of the FA Cup since Queens Park Rangers in 1914.
They top the National League by 6 points from second placed Forest Green and are all set for a return to the football league.
The Imps are also through to the semi-finals of the FA Trophy, where they will face York City over two legs.
It is the first time in The Imps’ 133-year history they have reached this stage of the competition.
The last non-league team to play in an FA Cup semi-final were Swindon in 1912.
The last time a non-league team eliminated two top-flight sides in a single FA Cup campaign was in 1914, when Millwall knocked out Chelsea and Bradford City.
Lincoln have lost just two of their last of their last 24 games in all competitions (W19, D3) and they scored with their only shot on target against Burnley in the last round.
Arsenal have only lost one FA Cup tie against a lower league club under Arsene Wenger – against Blackburn, of the Championship, in the fifth round in 2013.
The last time the Gunners lost to non-league opposition in the FA Cup was in 1911, when – as Woolwich Arsenal – they lost in round two to Swindon of the Southern League.
Arsenal have won 18 of their last 20 matches in the FA Cup (D1, L1).
The sides have not met in a competitive fixture since 1915 and this will be the first encounter in the FA Cup.
The 26 previous games between the sides all came in the second tier, with Arsenal winning 13 times and Lincoln claiming six victories.
The Imps have never won away to Arsenal, losing 10 and drawing three of 13 matches.
Arsenal will hope that they will carry too much firepower for their non-league opponents.
Alexis Sanchez and Theo Walcott have scored 20 and 16 goals respectively this season in all competitions.
Walcott has scored six times in his last four FA Cup appearances, including four in this season’s competition – although his last FA Cup goal at the Emirates was in January 2012 against Aston Villa.
Lincoln will look to keeper Paul Farman to keep the Gunners at bay.
Skipper Luke Waterfall will be key for the Imps. As well as his leadership he has weighed in with seven goals this season – an impressive return for a defender.
The experienced Matthew Rhead is Lincoln’s main attacking threat, with thirteen goals this season.
Arsenal have reached this stage of the FA Cup 12 times under Arsene Wenger, progressing to the semi-finals on 10 occasions.
“We’re not just going for a day out, you go to the zoo for a day out. This is football and we’re professional people.” declared Cowley.
You have to believe you’re going to win. We all know it’s a one in a thousand chance but you have to believe it’s going to be that one time.
We’ll go there with a game plan that we’ll look to execute and be really determined to give a good performance of ourselves.
We’re coming up against world-class players and it’s going to be a great challenge.
In terms of the quality of players and manager in Arsene Wenger, it will be our biggest challenge.
We want all of Arsenal’s top players to play. We want to play against world-class players to see exactly where we are at, where we are individually and where we are collectively.
But let’s be realistic. Even if they play their squad players, they’re top, top players.
Success for us would be giving the very best version of ourselves in front of 60,000 supporters at the Emirates in the sixth round of the FA Cup under the intense scrutiny of playing against world-class players.
If we can play at our best, that will hold us in very good stead for what is to come.”
Mesut Ozil made a late substitute appearance against Bayern Munich after recovering from a sickness bug affecting a number of players and should be available for selection.
Alex Iwobi and Danny Welbeck are doubts with the same sickness bug.
David Ospina is set to continue in-goal in place of Petr Cech, as he has done for Arsenal FA Cup matches this season.
Nathan Arnold and Matt Rhead should return after dropping to the bench for the win against Braintree on Tuesday.
Lincoln will be without Peterborough loanee Lee Angol, who scored a hat-trick on debut against Braintree, but is cup-tied for today’s match.
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Assistant Referees: Ian Hussin & Richard West
Fourth Official: Stuart Attwell
Arsenal to progress to the semi-finals with a 3-0 win.