Premier League giants like Arsenal and Manchester United usually field teams dominated by their squad players in the early stages of the F.A. Cup and League Cup.
However, when heavyweights like the Red Devils and the Gunners clash in the early stages of these tournaments, fans can expect to see a strong starting line-up consisting of regular starters.
Arsenal and Manchester United, for both of whom the F.A. Cup is the only realistic trophy aspiration for the season, are likely to field a strong lineup tonight.
Both teams have several players sidelined with injuries. However, the fact that both teams will play relatively smaller sides in the weekend will free both the managers to choose freely from the pool of players available to them.
Training done ✅
How you all feeling ahead of Friday night's BIG game? pic.twitter.com/7tqMsf1YHI
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) January 25, 2019
Let’s take a look at the line-up Unai Emery may decide to field against Manchester United tonight.
Arsenal Goalkeeper: Petr Cech
Ex-Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech has had to make himself content with limited opportunities this season. Bernd Leno has set himself as Unai Emery’s first choice goalkeeper, which has reduced Cech to a bench role throughout the season.
Cech, 36, is still no doubt a fantastic goalkeeper. The F.A. Cup is where Emery will give Cech his chance to get on the field.
Even while face opposition like Manchester United, Arsenal’s Spanish boss knows that he can rely on Cech to guard his goal.
Arsenal Defenders: Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Laurent Koscielny, Shkodran Mustafi
Arsenal have been defensively fragile throughout the course of the season. Repeated injuries to key defenders have done the team no favours either.
With Hector Bellerin out injured, playing 3 centre-backs is Arsenal’s best hope to put up a fight against Manchester United’s frontmen, who are scoring for fun at the moment.
Arsenal Wing-Backs: Sead Kolasinac and Ainsley Maitland-Niles
Sead Kolasinac has been the main-stay in Unai Emery side this season. He has terrorised opposition defenders with his pace, power, and directness and has bagged 3 Premier League assists in the process. He is sure to start once again tonight against United.
Maitland-Niles has also established himself as an important part of the current Arsenal team. Though the youngster prefers to play as a midfielder, he has often been used as a right wing-back in recent times. With Bellerin out injured, Maitland-Niles seems like the obvious choice for the Gunners’ clash with United.
Arsenal Midfielders: Aaron Ramsey, Granit Xhaka, Matteo Guendouzi
Aaron Ramsey’s time at Arsenal is seemingly over. However, Unai Emery has not been reluctant to use the Wales international for the time being. Aaron Ramsey showed why he is still an integral part of Arsenal’s team with his excellent work against Chelsea.
Granit Xhaka has started all but one of Arsenal’s Premier League games this season. He is someone who probably picks himself for the starting XI every week. It is unlikely that Unai Emery will bench him in a match of this magnitude.
Arsenal Spanish boss has relied heavily on Matteo Guendouzi this season, and the young midfielder has repaid his manager’s faith with brilliant performances. Fans can hope to see him on the pitch tonight as well.
Arsenal Forwards: Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Both the forward have been in fantastic form in front of goal this season. Aubameyang, who is also Arenal’s top scorer, has already bagged 16 goals this season while Lacazette has 12 goals to his name.
The duo’s partnership has also been fantastic. Arsenal knows that United have a shaky defence and Unai Emery will most likely try and take advantage of that fact by playing his two top scorers with the hope that they will exploit the fragile Manchester United defence.