In Review

Wenger on a hiding to nothing as Lincoln City visit Arsenal

There is little the Gunners can do to change the mood of supporters - except lose

If it was mission: impossible against Bayern Munich on Tuesday, then Arsenal find themselves on a hiding to nothing as they entertain non-league Lincoln City in the FA Cup on Saturday.

Even if the Gunners destroy the Red Imps, it will do little to restore Arsene Wenger's battered reputation, while any struggle against the underdogs will only offer more ammunition to his critics.

It is unlikely the mood before the match will be positive, with more fan protests planned outside the stadium.

Lincoln defender Luke Waterfall even suggested some home supporters may switch allegiances for the clash.

"Some Arsenal fans might be going there wanting us to win," he told the BBC. "If we start well, we might have 60,000 people behind us, not just 9,000."

There is little doubt about which team will be most looking forward to the match. "Lincoln City will smell blood as they travel to north London hoping to cause one of the FA Cup's all-time shocks against a bruised Arsenal side on Saturday," says the London Evening Standard.

The Gunners are the clear favourites, but Lincoln beat Premier League opposition last time out and who knows what frame of mind Arsenal will be in after Tuesday's mauling.

What's more, "Wenger is likely to give a handful of his younger players the chance to impress despite intense pressure following Arsenal's Champions League exit", adds the Standard.

The formbook also appears to favour Lincoln, says the Daily Mail.  

"Lincoln maintained their lead at the top of the National League on Tuesday with a thumping 4-0 win away to Braintree. It kept the Red Imps six points clear of Forest Green and Tranmere, and extended their unbeaten run in all competitions to ten games," reports the paper. 

"On the same night Arsenal slumped to a 5-1 Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich, crashing out 10-2 on aggregate and heaping more pressure on Wenger, whose contract expires in the summer."

However, Lincoln's dreams may prove to be just that.

"Arsenal need a result badly and they will get one," says Paul Merson of Sky Sports. "The gulf between the two sides will be ridiculous, especially on the carpet of a pitch at the Emirates. This is Arsenal's only chance now of any sort of success this season so I don't see anything other than a home win. It's great Lincoln have got to this stage but this is where it will end for them."

Mark Lawrenson of the [5]BBC agrees. "The Lincoln story is fantastic... but their FA Cup adventure ends here."

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