Following a 2-2 draw in Wales ten days ago, Arsenal and the Swans will do the dance again for a chance of a trip to Brighton in Round Four.
Swansea have had the upper hand over Arsenal of late, but needed a late equaliser to force the replay on this occasion. The Welsh side also have a 2-0 lead to take into the second leg of the League Cup semi final next week, but Michael Laudrup will ensure focus doesn’t drop in North London.
Arsene Wenger wants his side to play with a little more freedom against Swansea tonight, ‘We have to deal with that pressure a little bit better and not transform that desire into tension. The top level is a good mixture and a good balance between desire and freedom. The tension can transform you a little bit. I felt that’s what happened against City.
‘We want to transform our desire into a positive attitude and that’s what is at stake. ? [The FA Cup] is pure football, it is where the fate and the destiny of the teams are decided as well. Sometimes a cold night out in London or in Sheffield, that is where the team has to turn up to win the game.’
Meanwhile, Swans boss Michael Laudrup is hopeful of continuing his side’s good record in the capital, ”I like London. We have only lost to Tottenham. I think we have done really well [there],’ said Laudrup.
‘I know we won there in the league but that doesn’t mean we can do it again,’ he warned.
‘They have a good squad. They are a team who haven’t won anything for? many years. They will do everything [to win]. We already saw in the first game they came with the best squad.’
Arsenal Team News:
Laurent Koscielny serves a one match suspension following his red card against Manchester City. Mikel Arteta is kept out by a calf strain.
Tomas Rosicky (calf), Lukasz Fabianski (ankle) and Gervinho (African Nations) are also unavailable.
Arsenal (from): Szczesny, Mannone; Sagna, Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Squillaci, Gibbs, A.Santos, Diaby, Coquelin, Frimpong, Wilshere, Ramsey, S.Cazorla, Chamberlain, Arshavin, Podolski, Walcott, Giroud.
Player to watch: Aaron Ramsey
He was deployed on the left wing to doa tactical job against Swans’ Nathan Dyer and Wayne Routledge, who frequently swap flanks, in the original game and he did it very well.
He may well be asked to do a similar job tonight and without Arteta, his defensive responsibility will be even more crucial against Swansea’s effective counter attacking style.
Swansea City Team News:
Michael Laudrup will decide whether to make wholesale changes with Swansea due to play a League Cup semi final 2nd leg next Wednesday night.
Neil Taylor (knee) is a long term absentee, whilst loan signing Roland Lamah is inellegible as he wasn’t registered for the original tie.
Swansea City (from): Vorm, Trendell, Tiendalli, Rangel, Bartley, Williams, Flores, Monk, Davies, Situ, Britton, Sung-Yeung, de Guzman, Agustien, Hernandez, Dyer, Routledge, Michu, Graham, Moore, Lita, Schecter.
Player to watch: Danny Graham
Michu is an obvious danger man, but Laudrup will be more comfortable about leaving him on the bench given Danny Graham’s four goals in four games- including efforts against Arsenal and Chelsea.
Graham will look to exploit space in behind Mertesacker and Vermaelen with the likes of Hernandez and Dyer supplying the bullets. If Swansea are to win, Graham will need to lead the line well.
Match Facts & Stats
The Jacks have won two and drawn one of their last three games against Arsenal – winning 2-0 and 3-2 in the Premier League before drawing the original tie 2-2.
Arsenal haven`t failed to make the Fourth Round of the FA Cup since 1996.
Michu has struck three times in his last two games against Arsenal.
Five of the six goals scored between Arsenal and Swansea this season have came in the final 10 minutes of matches.
Kyle Bartley lines up against his old club.
Mark Clattenburg officiates tonight’s game.
Swansea’s style has proved difficult for Arsenal to overcome and I’m expecting a tight, nervy game tonight.
Nevertheless, I fancy we’ll just sneak it with Swansea perhaps having an eye on the Chelsea game. 2-1 Arsenal, Walcott and Giroud with the goals, de Guzman for Swansea.
Arsenal are away at Chelsea on Sunday. Swansea are at home to Stoke City on Saturday.