If you were Arsene….
I don’t think many of us get excited about another cup game against the Saints. Especially away they are a hard team to beat, and our performances against them over the last few years are in general nothing to be proud of. Luckily, Southampton have a lot of arrows on their bow right now and if we play them at a high tempo and mean business from the start, we should be able to beat them.
There are four months left till the end of the season and now is the time to play in top gear. Part of me thinks that we cannot compete for all three silvery pots in earnest. In Feb, March and April too many big games feature for us and not playing in the FA cup anymore could really help us to keep the team fresh for the crucial PL and CL games. On the other hand, it is the FA Cup and we should not treat it as some throw away competition.
Hard for Wenger to strike the right balance, as he knows that selecting a weakened team, as he did against them recently in the Micky Mouse cup, will almost certainly lead to elimination. Not playing the likes of Koz, Ozil and Alexis against the Saints is a recipe for disaster, but playing them comes with a risk of them getting injured or fatigued – all three played a lot of games in the Summer and we need them to stay fit and fresh till the end of the season if we want to win anything this time round. Just three days after the FA cup game we play Watford at home and then the Saturday after we have an early kick-off London derby with the league leaders.
So three games in eight days… what should Wenger do re team selections? Over to you!!