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Arsenal host Sunderland in the third round of the FA Cup on Saturday 9 January as the Gunners look to extend their winning streak in the cup to 13. The north London club have won the competition two years in succession but Arsene Wenger has revealed that he will field an experienced squad to increase their chances of progression.
Where to Watch
Kick-off is set for 3pm BST. Highlights of the game will be available on BBC Match of the Day at 10:25pm GMT on BBC One.
Arsenal are currently top of the league, two points above Leicester City, and popular belief suggests that they have bigger fish to fry than exert the team further in the cup, with a sizeable list of absentees. The Gunners are without six first team players, with Mikel Arteta returning to first team contention after missing almost two months with a calf problem he picked up in November.
Arteta's availability may allow Wenger to rest Aaron Ramsey, who has played day in, day out in his preferred midfield position and could need a break ahead of their crucial league encounter against Liverpool at Anfield. The next three games are likely to define Arsenal's chances in the league, having picked up only two points from the corresponding fixtures last season. In comparison, the FA Cup would be a scant consolation, given they have already won the tournament 12 times, more than any other club in the history of the tournament.
Meanwhile, Sunderland are currently lying in the 19th position and need a win in their game against Swansea City in midweek in a bid to close the gap with the team just above the relegation zone. The former West Ham manager is likely to rest a series of key players ahead of the fixture, having already been dealt a 3-1 loss at the Emirates by the Gunners last month in the league.
They come into the game on the back of an extremely important 3-1 win over Aston Villa, who are all but resigned to be relegated this season, procuring only eight points from the 20 games played till this point.
What managers say
Arsene Wenger: "Of course being holders gives us extra responsibility. We won it twice in the last two years. We want to stay in the competition and do it again if it's possible. The FA Cup is a great competition. We take care of this competition like everybody does. Everybody dreams of winning the FA Cup. There may be some priorities at some stage of the season for some clubs who think they are in trouble and have to make these kinds of decisions, so they choose. We don't because we have a big squad and we feel we are equipped to deal with all the competitions."
Sam Allardyce: "We're still without Younes [Kaboul], without Adam Matthews and Seb Larsson. Everyone else is OK at this moment in time which is pretty good from our point of view, which allows me to use the strength and depth of the squad over the next six days or so. It's a tough draw in a tough week which has accumulated two-three away games in the space of seven days. Realistically it can't be right for us and for the health of players. Everyone is suffering from a huge amount of injuries. They've occurring for everyone because we're asking the players to do too much. It is a period of time when you have to cram a lot in."
Betting Odds (888Sport)
- Arsenal Win: 1.28
- Draw: 6.5
- Sunderland Win: 9.5
Possible XI: Ospina; Debuchy, Chambers, Gabriel, Gibbs; Flamini, Arteta, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jeff Reine-Adelaide, Campbell; Walcott
Possible XI: Pantilimon; Yedlin, O'Shea, Coates, Van Aanholt; Cattermole, M'Vila, Watmore, Toivonen, Borini; Graham