Lincoln City manager Danny Cowley wants Arsenal to name a full-strength side for their FA Cup quarter-final despite his side standing on the brink of more history in the sport's oldest competition. The Imps, already the first non-league side to reach the last eight since the formation of the Football League in 1888, can continue their historic run in the tournament if they see off their illustrious Premier League opponents.
Having already beaten Altrincham, Oldham Athletic, Ipswich Town and Brighton and Hove Albion in previous rounds, Cowley's side saw off top-flight Burnley via Sean Raggett's last-minute winner at Turf Moor to become the first non-league team for 103 years to make it beyond the fifth round. Their opponents are the Gunners, who despite being 11-time winners are going through a mini-crisis after their record-breaking Champions League last 16 defeat to Bayern Munich.
Given the harrowing nature of the 10-2 aggregate loss to Bayern, the heaviest two-legged loss suffered by an English club in the Champions League, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger could be tempted into resting several of the players who lost to the German giants. But Cowley wants his players to be exposed to all the Premier League side have to offer at the Emirates Stadium.
"We're not just going for a day out, you go to the zoo for a day out," he told reporters, according to Lincolnshire Live. "This is football and we're professional people. You have to believe you're going to win. We all know it's a one in a thousand chance but you have to believe it's going to be that one time.
"We'll go there with a game plan that we'll look to execute and be really determined to give a good performance of ourselves. We're coming up against world class players and it's going to be a great challenge.
"In terms of the quality of players and manager in Arsene Wenger, it will be our biggest challenge. We want all of Arsenal's top players to play. We want to play against world-class players to see exactly where we are at, where we are individually and where we are collectively. But let's be realistic. Even if they play their squad players, they're top, top players.
"Success for us would be giving the very best version of ourselves in front of 60,000 supporters at the Emirates in the sixth round of the FA Cup under the intense scrutiny of playing against world-class players. If we can play at our best, that will hold us in very good stead for what is to come."
An illness spreading through the Arsenal squad is set to deprive them of several first-team players including Danny Welbeck and Alex Iwobi, who missed the 5-1 loss to Bayern. Mesut Ozil, who was left on the bench in mid-week, is another who has been suffering but he could return from the start.