Arsenal begin their quest for what will likely be their best chance of glory this season, as they face-off against Leeds United in the 3rd round of the FA Cup. With an average Christmas period pretty much eradicating their faint hopes of winning the Premier League, and the formidable test of AC Milan to come in the Champions League, the FA Cup represents the Gunners most realistic chance of ending their six season trophy drought.

Twelve Months On

The quirks of the FA Cup draw has paired together two sides who met at this stage of the competition last season. Leeds were within a hair's breadth of causing a huge upset, as only an injury time penalty from Cesc Fabregas took the game to an Elland Road replay (in which Arsenal won 3-1).

However, this is a much depleted Leeds squad from the one that took to The Emirates 12 months ago. The Yorkshiremen have numerous injuries in defence - a situation with which Arsene Wenger can surely empathise. Alex Bruce and Darren O'Dea are expected to join Patrick Kisnorbo on the treatment table, but what is of greater concern is the absence of captain Jonny Howson and attacking lynchpin, Robert Snodgrass.

A Second String?

Arsene Wenger has said that he intends to play a relatively strong side on Monday. Aware of the heightened importance of the cup, there should be plenty of experience in Arsenal's XI. While Robin Van Persie will be rested, expect to see a significant portion of the players who featured over the busy Christmas fixture list.

And Monsieur Henry is back. The Arsenal legend will only be an option off the bench, but with a stronger side than we saw at this stage of the competition last season, and Leeds shorn of a genuine "gamebreaker" in Snodgrass's absence, the best hope for them is to probably play for a 0-0 and try to take the Gunners back up north for a replay. Patience may be required, but Arsenal should secure the victory without too many scares. Still, that's what I thought last year.

Possible First XI (4-3-3)

Fabianski; Coquelin, Mertesacker, Squillaci, Miquel; Song, Arteta, Rosicky; Benayoun, Chamakh, Arshavin


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