Arsenal will attempt to win their third FA Cup in three seasons by starting off their latest campaign in the third round against Sunderland.
Although another trophy would be welcomed by Arsenal, the fans would clearly prefer the Premier League crown if they have their way. At this stage, though, Arsenal are going to give it their all to win at home in the third round.
In December, Arsenal comfortably beat Sunderland 3-1 at the Emirates Stadium. Arsenal would expect to beat Sunderland, but things might not be quite so comfortable. Cup ties can often become defensive because teams have the prospect of earning a replay if the game ends in a draw.
For this game, Arsenal will be without seven midfielders and will have to make their selection from Mesut Özil, Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mathieu Flamini, and Joel Campbell. Arsène Wenger should be expected to pick a winning combination from those talented players. A midweek break will help to ensure that Arsenal avoid injuries in the lead-up.
Sunderland and manager Sam Allardyce managed to snap a run of five-straight defeats by defeating Aston Villa 3-1 last weekend. In spite of the victory, though, Sunderland remain in the relegation zone and are strong candidates to go down. Typically, a cup run helps struggling teams to feel better, but not when they have to play Arsenal away from home.
To stand any sort of chance, Sunderland have to make it through the first half without conceding. John O’Shea will need to deliver an experienced performance if Sunderland are to stand any chance. Later in the game, they could try to catch Arsenal on the break with Jermain Defoe.
Tip one: Arsenal and no for both teams to score @ 1.95
Tip two: Under 0.5 goals in the first half @ 3.75
There is value to be found by combining Arsenal with no for both teams to score at 1.95. Additionally, it is worth considering under 0.5 goals in the first half. This is because cup ties often have fewer goals than league games.