11th January 2016: Burnley next in the Cup + Pre-Liverpool chat

Welcome to a brand new week on TremendArse. The fourth-round draw for the FA Cup was made earlier this evening and we’ll be welcoming Joey Barton’s Burnley, who currently sit fifth in the Championship, to Emirates stadium on either the 30th, or 31st, of this month.

I have to admit I haven’t seen Burnley play since they were in the Premier League last season, so I have no idea about their strengths and weaknesses as a side, but we’ll obviously be super favourites, especially as we play at home.

There’s still the matter of three tricky Premier League fixtures to navigate through before that game though, and Arsene Wenger held his pre-match press conference this morning as we prepare to face Liverpool at Anfield on Wednesday night.

Team news is mixed, with a positive update about the availability of David Ospina and Tomas Rosicky, but a not-so-positive one regarding Alexis Sanchez. Here’s what Arsene said:

We will have to test Ospina who was not available on Saturday. We have Rosicky back in training so the situation is getting better. Ospina is a muscular issue and we have to check if he will be available or not. Overall I think he has a 60/40 chance to make it. He (Rosicky) will be back in full training this week, it is fantastic because he has been out for very long and it is good to know that a player of that calibre is back in our squad. We think he (Sanchez) will be short for Wednesday, he has a chance to be available for Sunday [against Stoke]. He is always keen to play. If you listen to Alexis, he can always play – even when he is injured. We try to be cautious. With a muscular injury you never exactly how big the risk but he is very close. If you look at him training he is very close.

Considering the above and the fact Mathieu Flamini is expected to be available, I can’t see beyond a starting line-up of:

Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal;
Flamini, Ramsey;
Campbell, Ozil, Walcott;

Arsene was also asked about what he thought of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, compared with Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool, and said:

Every time we go to Anfield, we face a team who is up for it. It’s always a ferocious battle, no matter who the manager is. They had a very strong manager before, they have a very strong one now and Klopp has the personality to do well there. [We need to] play our game at a good pace. We are used to pressing. It is not just Liverpool who do that, everybody in the modern game [does it]. Pressing has been created in England basically because there is a history of teams who have done that very well so it is part of the modern game to make quick decisions, be very short with your first touch and play your game.

Pretty diplomatic stuff, as you’d expect, from the boss there, but he must be looking at Liverpool’s absentee list, which includes Philippe Coutinho (who in my opinion is their best attack-minded player) and Martin Skrtel (their best defender) and think we’re playing Liverpool at a great time. Obviously we have injury woes of our own but we do have a relatively settled side at the moment, with a set game-plan and a stable defence, which I’m not sure you’d say about Klopp’s side currently.

Reports today suggest they’ll have Kolo Toure and Mamadou Sakho available to play, which is a real shame because I was really looking forward to seeing two players forced to play out of position in the heart of their defence, yet Skrtel will undoubtedly be a huge miss for them and for once, I really fancy our chances heading to Anfield, rather than merely being cautiously optimistic.

Back tomorrow.

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