So far, round three of the FA Cup, one of my favourite weekends of the year, has been something of a damp squib – a couple of replays is all that lower league sides have managed against Premiership opposition. (Note: I wrote this sentence before the United-Leeds game). Nonetheless, the cup still evokes fantastic memories, and no matter what anyone says about the competition losing its appeal (only because you lost, Phil Brown), it still holds a special place in the hearts of fans everywhere.
So while our side may look familiar to viewers of the Carling Cup, the significance of the game is much greater, and Wenger knows it – he will only field a side he feels can go to West Ham and win. But rotation is perfectly understandable – we play our game in hand against Bolton in midweek, who may have a new manager, and then face Everton at the weekend, who will be well rested. This is what a squad is for.
And with so many injuries, that squad includes some who may not have expected to be involved at this stage. Senderos is in line to make a rare start, Rosicky returns, and some of the youngsters, notably Merida, Wilshere and Vela may be more heavily involved than usual.
West Ham are missing players through injury, and are demoralised, but that was also the case when we travelled to Upton Park in the league earlier this season, and threw away a 2-0 lead to draw. Today is a chance to put that right, and I’m predicting us to do exactly that with a 3-1 victory, available at 12/1.
Let’s make sure we’re in the hat, and start a very important year in style.
Enjoy the game.