National League outfit Sutton United arguably play their biggest game in the club’s history in 28 years when they welcome Premier League giants Arsenal to Gander Green Lane on Monday evening in the FA Cup Fifth Round.
The hosts last played a top-flight side in this prestigious cup competition was in 1989 when they defeated then top division team Coventry City at home in a 2-1 victory to progress to the fourth round, and will be hoping to put repeat that success of nearly three decades ago – they’ll be taking inspiration from fellow non-league Lincoln City’s shocking win over Burnley on Saturday.
Arsene Wenger’s Gunners cross the River Thames in the search to re-gain confidence after a dismal, disappointing and depressing night in Munich last Wednesday when Carlo Ancelotti’s Bayern thrashed their visitors 5-1 in the first leg of the Champions League Round of 16 ties.
The U’s have been defeated in their last three outings and the previous victory came in the FA Cup against Leeds United in the Fourth Round, before that Sutton overcame League One outfit AFC Wimbledon in a replay at Kingsmeadow. However, their league form of 2017 is little to be desired for with just one win – on the 1st January – other than this competiton, their only other victory has come in the FA Trophy.
Arsenal’s form isn’t much better having just one win from their last four. Prior to the trip to continental Europe, they were able to beat Premier League relegation candidates Hull City at the Emirates but the north London club have also recently suffered defeats to fierce rival Chelsea and Watford. To get to this stage in the FA Cup Arsene Wenger has enjoyed himself a little with a 5-0 thumping over Southampton in the last round, but started their hopeful road to Wembley having beaten the Championship’s Preston North End.
Sutton United have no injury concerns ahead of this game but Arsenal have several and Wenger is expected to make several changes to his squad’s midweek loss in Germany.
Midfielders Aaron Ramsey and Santi Cazorla are set to miss this encounter having recently picked up injuries, although the former is hopeful to return to action in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, Laurent Koscielney and Lucas Perez remain on the sidelines but the extent of their time out of the team is unknown.
Sutton United: Worner, Amankwaah, Downer, Collins, Spence, Bailey, Deacon, Eastmond, May, Gomis, Biamou
Arsenal: Ospina, Gabriel, Mustafi, Holding, Gibbs, Elneny, Maitland-Niles, Walcott, Reine-Adelaide, Welbeck, Giroud
By Ryan White (@RyanJ_White)