Huddersfield’s visit to The Emirates stadium will see Arsenal face a lower league team for the fifth time in their last seven games. The North London side are on a great run of form and have not lost in 2011 scoring 16 goals already this year. They remain the only team left in England challenging for all four trophies. However it may not be plain sailing as under Lee Clark Huddersfield have put a good run together, having lost only one of their seven games this month winning four, and are a good bet for the play-offs.

Past Meetings

The last time these two sides met was back in 1993 over two legs in the League Cup. Ian Wright’s hat trick in a 0-5 first leg victory virtually settled the tie and was followed by a 1-1 draw at Highbury. Despite the 73 meetings in total, only two have come in the F.A. Cup, both of which Arsenal have won.

Arsenal will be keen to put the tie to bed as soon as possible aa replay would put unnecessary pressure on the squad. Despite eventually easing past Leeds, another mid-week trip to Northwest Yorkshire will only strain players who have a Champions League quarterfinal against Barcelona next month and ground to gain on Manchester United in the title race.

On the other hand Huddersfield will be relishing the chance to cause an upset the F.A. Cup is so famous for, in one of the country’s biggest stadiums. However, they also have reason be cautious of the effects of playing a Premier League side. Last season Leeds United won 0-1 at Old Trafford and subsequently failed to win in League One in their next eight games, effectively costing them the title.

Fabregas, Van Persie, Nasri out

Changes are expected throughout the Arsenal line-up, as they rotate their squad in an attempt to keep players fresh for the Premier League. Abou Diaby is fit again and is respected to return to the starting line-up in the place of Jack Wilshere. Thomas Rosicky should return from illness to takeover the captaincy from Fabregas and Marouane Chamakh is expected to return after losing his starting place in recent weeks to Robin Van Persie.

Bendtner and Arshavin keep places

Nicklas Bendtner and Andrea Arshavin, both of whom are out of favor with Arsenal fans, keep their place. Wenger will be keen for Bendtner to build on his excellent goal against Ipswich in the week whilst any improvement for Arshavin will be a benefit. However it is widely expected that the Russian will improve if he is given the game time to play through his run of bad form. Reinforcements are plentiful on the bench (Fabregas, Nasri, Walcott, Van Persie, Wilshere, Song) as Arsene Wenger reasserts the importance of winning silverware this season.

No such luxuries for Huddersfield who will play their strongest eleven on Sunday. The team who drew 0-0 with Colchester last Saturday are expected to start.


Regardless of how many changes Wenger makes to the starting line-up each player will automatically fill into the set formation that Arsene never strays from. A 4-3-3, 4-5-1, 4-2-1-2-1 or however you may perceive it will see a regular back four with an interchanging centre midfield three. Two wingers will sit behind a central striker however expect them all to pop up in each other’s positions throughout the 90 minutes.

The away side have also set up with a 4-3-3 or 4-4-2 this season but might opt instead for a 4-5-1 in order to stifle the passing of the Arsenal midfield. As we saw against Ipswich in the week having three in the middle plus two wide men prevents Arsenal’s full backs getting forward too much.

Key Battle – Rosicky v Kilbane

The Ireland international, who has over 100 caps for his country, is on loan from Hull until the end of the season. He has played in the centre of midfield or left back this season but will probably be charged with breaking down the supply to the Arsenal midfield. If Rosicky gets the better of the Irishman and supplies the front three with good service it could be a long game for the visitors goalkeeper Ian Bennet. Kilbane has apparently promised to nutmeg Fabregas during the game, but seeing as the Spaniard is on the bench, he should probably be concentrating on dealing with what will be in front of him come Sunday.

The Man in Black

Mark Clattenburg comes into the game fresh off the back of a slating from Premiership manager Roberto Di Matteo. During the Blackburn v West Brom game last weekend Peter Odemwingie was clearly fouled inside the opposition penalty area, but Clattenburg awarded a free-kick right on the edge of the area, which was subsequently hit straight into the Blackburn wall.

The players should be aware of the referee’s history of showing cards. In just 25 games this season Clattenburg has shown 68 yellow cards and three reds. That includes five occasions where he has shown at least five yellows in one game, two of which were during Arsenal matches.

Likely Line-ups

Arsenal - Szczesny, Eboue, Djourou, Koscielny, Gibbs, Diaby, Denilson, Rosicky, Arshavin, Bendtner, Chamakh

Huddersfield - Bennet, McCombe, Peltier, Clarke, Kilbane, Kay, Pilkington, Gudjonsson, Rhodes, Lee

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