Sutton United v Arsenal: FA Cup 5th Round Match Preview
Sutton United host Arsenal in the FA Cup 5th Round at Gander Green Lane tonight (7.55pm kick-off UK time).
The winner of the tie will be at home to Lincoln City in the quarter-finals of the competition. That tie will take place over the weekend of the 10th-13th March.
The U’s are the lowest ranked team left in the competition and are in the 5th round for the first time in their history.
Paul Doswell will be looking to mastermind a second non-league reaching the quarter-finals of this year’s competition.
Sutton will be aiming to emulate fellow National League side Lincoln City, who beat Burnley on Saturday to become the first non-league side to reach the last 8 since QPR in 1914.
Sutton have played six games in the FA Cup this season, scoring 14 goals and conceding six times. They have claimed the scalps of League 1 AFC Wimbledon and Championship Leeds United in the last two rounds
The U’s have only lost once at home in the last five months – that was a 6-0 defeat to Dover in November, when they played for over an hour with 10 men.
They’ve won 30 of their 36 league points this term at home on their 3G pitch, claiming nine of their 10 wins on home soil.
Sutton have played three top-flight sides in the FA Cup before. They famously beat Coventry 2-1 at home in 1989 before losing 8-0 at Norwich in the fourth round. They also hosted Leeds – then reigning champions – in the fourth round in 1970, losing 6-0.
Arsene Wenger will want to avoid a cup upset against non-league opponents. The Gunners’ manager’s future is back in the spotlight after Arsenal’s second half capitulation in the first leg of their last 16 tie with Bayern Munich on Wednesday.
After being level at half-time, the Gunners were eventually thumped 5-1 by the German champions at the Allianz Arena.
Arsenal have reached the 5th round for the seventh successive season. They have so far beaten Preston North End and Southampton in this season’s competition.
The Gunners have won 17 of their last 19 matches in the FA Cup (D1, L1). Winning the competition in 2014 and 2015.
Their last away defeat in the FA Cup came in February 2012, when they were beaten 2-0 at Sunderland.
Arsenal have only lost one FA Cup tie against a non-Premier League club under Arsene Wenger – that was their defeat to Blackburn, of the Championship, in the fifth round in 2013
This is the first time the clubs have met in a competitive match.
An Arsenal XI – comprising youth players – did play away to Sutton in a pre-season friendly in July 2013, winning 4-3. Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Alex Iwobi featured for Arsenal.
Captain Jamie Cooper will be a key man at both ends for Sutton. He is the mainstay of the defence and has weighed in with six National League goals this season. He also scored from the penalty spot in the 1-0 defeat of Leeds United in the 4th Round of the FA Cup.
Olivier Giroud is likely to lead the Arsenal line. It has been a stop/start season so far for Giroud. He was on the bench, and made a late substitute appearance, in the Champions League hammering against Bayern Munich last week. He has only made six Premier League starts this season, with a further eleven off the bench. But has scored eight goals in those appearances. Giroud also scored the winner in the Gunners 2-1 FA Cup third-round win at Preston North End.
“There’s two ways of looking at it. You either get the likes of [Mesut] Ozil and [Alexis] Sanchez and [Olivier] Giroud – and you can just keep naming them – in which case we would lose the game comfortably but the lads would get the experience of having played a Premier League giant.
If you see Ozil and Sanchez on the team sheet our chance doesn’t come beyond nought. Or you go the other way and you play a team of under-23s that are still internationals mixed in with one or two of their squad players, and that gives us that one percent chance that we’d be after.”
Arsene Wenger’s only game against a non-league side came in the fourth round in 2003, when Arsenal beat Conference opponents Farnborough 5-1. The Gunners were drawn away but the match was switched to Highbury.
On facing Sutton, Wenger said.
“I always had in my head that it was a very important game. In my head I have had a team that will start and play there, for a week or 10 days now. That result we had at Bayern Munich will not influence that selection.
The FA Cup is one of our targets. It’s the next game and for us to bounce back after the game we just had, it becomes a very important game. But it always was, in my head.”
Sutton have an impressive home record on their 3G pitch but have lost three consecutive away defeats, including a 5-0 loss at Boreham Wood. But Wenger is expecting a tough challenge.
“Sutton had six or seven players who didn’t play, so they didn’t play with their regular team,” he said. “I expect a completely different game against us.
It will be the FA Cup with everybody supporting them. They’ve been preparing for this game for a long time in their heads with a huge enthusiasm, so you cannot compare that with the game against Boreham Wood.”
Former Arsenal midfielder Craig Eastmond will return after completing a three-game ban.
Ben Jefford, Jack Jebb and Craig Dundas are all cup-tied and ineligible for Monday’s game.
Laurent Koscielny is set to miss with a hamstring injury picked up in the Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich on Wednesday.
Referee: Michael Oliver
Assistant Referees: Simon Long & Sian Massey-Ellis
Fourth Official: Andy Davies
Arsenal to progress to the quarter-final with a 3-0 win.