Bendtner to spearhead Arsenal revenge mission on Liverpool
Wenger tipped to make sweeping changes for cup clash, as Champions League showdown loom.
WITH Arsenal facing something of a mini-crisis midway through February, Sunday's FA Cup fifth round tie offers the chance for redemption against Liverpool, the team that humbled them last weekend.
After being thrashed 5-1 by the Reds in their league encounter at Anfield, Arsenal then laboured to a dull goalless draw against Manchester United on Wednesday. A revenge victory in the cup against Liverpool would not only reinvigorate Arsenal, it would also take them a step closer to winning their first silverware in nine years.
But, the Daily Mail says Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is considering making sweeping changes to his starting XI as "he prioritises next week's visit of Bayern Munich". The European champions face Arsenal in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 encounter on Wednesday evening, and the Mail says Wenger is wrestling "with a major selection dilemma... as he faces two make-or-break clashes in the space of four days".
While some changes will be welcomed by Gooners, notably the return of Mathieu Flamini in the midfield after serving a three-match ban for a red card, others will have fans covering their faces with fingers. Playing Emirates hate-figure Nicklas Bendtner up front is hardly going to give Arsenal the cutting edge they have lacked recently, while seeing Lukasz Fabianski in goal is always cause for concern.
Teenage sensation Serge Gnabry – who arguably should have had more game time this season – is another face that is likely to be seen on Sunday, along with compatriot Lukas Podolski, now back to full fitness.
The Mail predicts that Wojciech Szczesny, Olivier Giroud, Mesut Ozil and Mikel Arteta are likely to be rested for the clash against Liverpool, no bad thing as far as Ozil and Arteta go as the pair are struggling for form at present.
Szczesny, whose breathtaking save against United secured Arsenal a share of the spoils on Wednesday, hopes he'll get a chance for revenge against Liverpool, warning the Anfield club that the Gunners won't be haunted by the ghost of last week on Sunday.
"We're confident," said the the Pole. "It will be a big game for us because we conceded five against them and it was a little bit humiliating. We want to recover as soon as possible and it's a good chance that we play them a week afterwards. We'll do our best to win."
Asked to explain what went wrong against Liverpool, particularly in those catastrophic opening 20 minutes when Arsenal conceded four goals, Szczesny, replied: "It was just an accident, it happened. They were terrific offensively. We were a little bit weak defensively and got punished. I certainly believe it's over. It is out of our system now because we turned up against United with a good defensive system."