FA Cup 4th Round
This is not your usual preview, where most of us are familiar with the opposition, their players, and their style. So, bear with me if I spend a little longer on what we might expect. I asked for this assignment because CoventryCity is my home town club, and despite their well documented off-field problems, I still follow their results and progress keenly.
I would like to open this report up with this link for an insight into their manager’s self awareness, and hopefully through that, allow you a more rounded respect for our opponents on Friday night?
So, from the above I think Coventry will play with the freedom that will allow them to be at their very best, even though a victory is very unlikely. That is a dangerous combination, if the Arsenal players simply think they only have to turn up and they are in the 5th round. Coventry will play to the 95th minute and if there is the slightest chink in our application, they will pounce.
Here are a few players to look out for from the team I expect will play for the Sky Blues:
Franck Moussa – Belgian youngster who plays as an attacking midfielder, and scored last weekend with a 35yd rasper in injury time. Very popular with the City fans.
Carl Baker – Now the senior pro in the midfield. Plays out wide, with pace. Skilful; takes the penalty shots, and has got the most assists, with 8 this term.
Cyrus Christie – Young, athletic left back. Likes to get forward a lot. Pacy with it.
Leon Clarke – He is the senior striker of City’s front pair. He scored 10 goals from 14 appearances last season. He is their leading scorer with 18 this season. However, there is talk of a transfer to Wolves, but as they are out of the Cup, I guess he will want to play this game before any move is completed?
Denzel Slager – Recently signed late entry for a start.
Joe Murphy – A very capable ‘keeper on his day, and has been with City for the last 3 seasons. Has made more saves this season than our Chezzer!
Predicting the Arsenal line up is tricky, given surprise injury recoveries, but this will be something like it. They will rest a few seniors, but there will be a solid core:
Subs: Szcz; Sagna; Frimpong; Ozil; Santi; Eisfeld; Podolski.
It is a youthful midfield that will not last the 90, but by having Ryo ahead of Gibbs means that latter can monitor the dangerous Baker. In a more 1-4-1-4-1 formation, I think Rosicky will do the prompting, feeding Zelalem to find the key passes to both wide men. Good crosses will suit Bendtner’s better heading ability? Ox and Rosicky can interchange to provide another threat in the central area.
Coventry line up will be something like this:
L.Clarke – D Slager
Moussa – Fleck – Baker
Christie – Webster – D.Seabourne – Adams
Subs will include: Midfielder Adam Barton and J. Clarke, defender.
Callum Wilson – Usually the pacy young partner to Leon Clarke, but he is injured and misses the game. Big loss for them.
How the game will be won or lost:
Overall, Coventry score regularly, 55 this term in League 1, with 45 against.
I think they will play the two up front and really go for it. It may be tight in midfield, but they can break equally quickly, and Moussa capable of firing in from any range.
It does mean they will be vulnerable if they go to open, but it should be an exciting game. Their manager will expect them to put in a good effort, so if they lose it will not be because anybody shirked their responsibility.
Well, possession, as always, will be key but it is not the whole story. Coventry will play on the counter and hope to win the ball in midfield. They have pace down both wings, so balls played inside to the dangerous Moussa means any lack of concentration will be punished. With the team above, Arsenal should have the numerical advantage in midfield and I expect them to win this area comfortably enough, but with Ryo on the left, and Ox and the overlapping Jenkinson, on the right, I think less will be played through the middle … unless of course they do play the full senior squad in midfield?
Personally I do not think it will be necessary. I think our strong defence will be too good for the likes of Slager and Clarke. Moussa is a bit of a maverick, so best not let him get any clear shots on goal. Ox and Rosicky helping out Arteta to stop Fleck from getting the ball through middle, and Gibbs is probably the better option (over Monreal) to handle Baker’s pace. Jenks will have to be quick on the other side if he gets forwards himself, but hopefully Ox will be on that side to help out.
Zelalem is my quirky option to start. It should be a game that suits his passing game a treat, and with Ozil on the bench, it can be rectified if he looks like getting overwhelmed. Both Rosicky and Vermaelen are subject to their fitness. With a good break before our next game Koscielny is the obvious replacement in defence. If Arteta is not available, then Wilshere may have to partner Frimpong or Yennaris, as both played in the Under 21’s last time? Therefore if Arteta is fit, I think Rosicky’s better defensive work holds Santi out? Whilst Ozil could start and have a real influence on the game from the start, I think they will save him for midweek?
Zelalem up against Fleck might be a different challenge? I can see Podolski coming on, or even starting, and the switch will take place with Bendtner around the 70th minute. The rest will be score dependent, barring injuries.
Goals should come from Bendtner’s heading at set pieces, and Rosicky and Ox should have plenty of opportunities too. I do not see us keeping a clean sheet, but I think 3-1 to the Gunners, even if it will be late on before it is wrapped up. I will repeat, Coventry will keep it going right up until the final whistle.
So remember we play Southampton on Tuesday and Coventry are a League 1 side:
Q.1 Would you rest some of our key players? If so how many?
Q.2 Who from the YouthAcademy would you like to see get some game time?
Q.3 What is your score prediction?
Written by: Gerry