Date: 4th January 2013 at 2:22pm
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On Sky

Arsenal begin their bid for the trophy they last laid their hands on in Wales in 2005 in, well, Wales. Swansea beat Arsenal both times they played them in 2012.

But Michael Laudrup’s Swans side have a League Cup semi final on the horizon against Chelsea this week, whilst Arsene Wenger will be looking to avenge the memory of the savaging 2-0 defeat by Swansea in December. It stands to be an intriguing contest.

Vital Quotes:

Arsene Wenger thinks sound decision making in the Swans set up explains their recent success, ‘They lost their manager but they are a successful story,’ he said. ‘They lost Rodgers but then they took Laudrup who is doing very well. In 2009, they lost Roberto Martinez to Wigan, so they usually find the right guy to replace the manager who is leaving.

‘They are a team who have already shown last year that they are at a good technical level and that they could adapt well to the Premier League.

‘They can also buy well and they’ve shown that once again this season by bringing in players such as Michu.’

Meanwhile Michael Laudrup was keen to play down expectations given the Swans’ recent efforts against Arsenal, ‘There is more pressure on Arsenal than us.

‘Winning at the Emirates will mean nothing. This is a different game. I epect them to play their strongest team.’

Swansea City Team News:

Swansea’s only definite injury absentee is Neil Taylor, who continues to recover from a fractured ankle.

Michu (knee) and Angel Rangel (calf) both came through their comebacks on New Year’s Day with no ill effects. But with a League Cup semi final against Chelsea on Wednesday, Laudrup may utilise his squad.

Swansea City (from): Vorm, Tremmel, Rangel, Monk, Bartley, Florres, Williams, Davies, Situ, Tiendali, Dyer, de Guzman, Britton, Augustien, Michu, Routledge, Hernandez, Ki Sung-Yeung, Graham, Lita, Moore, Shechter.

Player to watch: Michu

I’m trying to exist the urge to be obvious, but it’s clear that the Spanish midfield-cum-striker has been the bargain of the season in the Premier League.

Whether he plays as a central striker or as an advanced midfielder, Michu has great technique and finishing. But more importantly he seems to have that knack of finding space where none seems to exist.

Arsenal Team News:

Abou Diaby (thigh) and Andre Santos (stomach) are back in full training, but won’t be in the squad. Lukasz Fabianski (ankle) is a long term absentee.

Vito Mannone and the returning Emmanuel Frimpong have both been struck by Norovirus. Arsenal have sought permission for Gervinho to play ahead of his link up with Ivory Coast for the African Nations Cup.

Johan Djourou and Marouane Chamakh will likely have completed loan moves away from the club by Sunday.

Arsenal (from): Szczesny, Martinez, Jenkinson, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Arteta, Coquelin, Ramsey, Wilshere, S.Cazorla, Rosicky, Chamberlain, Walcott, Podolski, Giroud.

Player to watch: Alex Oxlade Chamberlain

The Ox hasn’t really produced for quite a while now. He offers width on the right hand side, which our shape would risk lacking without him.

But with 1 league goal and no assists this season, he’s been one of the quiet disappointments so far this season. With Nathan Dyer and Wayne Routledge impressing for the hosts, now would be a good time for the Ox to remind us all of his qualities.

Match Facts & Stats

Swansea and Arsenal have played one another 12 times. Arsenal have won 6, Swansea have won 5, there has been one draw.

In the event of a draw in this match, the replay will take place at Emirates Stadium on Wednesday, 16th January.

Kyle Bartley lines up against his old club.

It’s the 4th F.A. Cup meeting between the sides. Swnasea won the first in 1926, but Arsenal have been victorious in the subsequent two.

Arsenal’s last 3rd Round F.A. Cup defeat came against Sheffield United in 1996.

Swansea has won just four of their last 19 FA Cup games against teams in the same division, including three defeats in the past three years.

Ref Watch:

The referee will be Howard Webb.

Match Prediction:

It depends on Swansea’s team selection. I think we’ll knock them out. If they select a full strength side, then I think a replay will be required. If they don’t, I think Arsenal will win.

Of course it also depends on Arsenal’s team selection! So I’ll go for 1-1 for now. Dyer for Swansea and Vermaelen for Arsenal.

Next Fixtures:

Arsenal are at home to Manchester City next Sunday. Swansea are at home to Chelsea in the League Cup on Wednesday night.