Things were looking so rosy for Arsenal at the beginning of January and although Bayern Munich were favourites in their Champions League tie, there was a real chance of winning a Premier League and FA Cup double. However, with Chelsea currently looking unbeatable, Manchester City demonstrating their superiority over Arsenal in a 6-3 victory and with Liverpool and Tottenham stubbornly hanging onto the coattails of the top three, Arsenal's Premier League chances suddenly seem slim. Therefore, the FA Cup takes on added importance, right?
I would argue yes, but the team Wenger picks will probably contradict that. With Arsenal due to play Bayern Munich, the best team in the world on Wednesday, Wenger cannot afford to have his first team players injured or fatigued, or risk embarrassment.
However, as Liverpool showed this time last week, they are a formidable team very much on Arsenal's wavelength. Whilst I would expect one or two first team regulars to be dropped, anything more would leave Arsenal prone to another thrashing.
In a mid week interview with Arsenal.com, Arsene Wenger hinted towards making a few changes:
"I will play a team [against Liverpool] with a good opportunity, a good chance to qualify. Will I rest one player, or two or three, I don’t know yet. Certainly we will have just have one focus, which is to win the game."
"We have rotated quite well, if you look at the number of players we have used. I have the same level of confidence in every player."
"For example, I rate [Carl] but has a bit more experience so when we go in a game with more pressure I give the advantage sometimes to the experienced [player]."
"But I have the same level of confidence in every player in my squad. I have a short squad but a very level squad."
Judging from what Wenger stated, he is looking to make a handful of changes, not wholesale. To reiterate what I mentioned earlier: one change would be wise; two would be pushing it, but perfectly understandable; three or more would be suicidal.
Arsenal do not have a deep squad as Wenger alluded to, and that lack of depth is even more shallower as Vermaelen and Cazorla have been ruled out of tomorrow's cup tie.
If Wenger is planning on making three changes, it would make the team extremely weakened. If Wenger was planning on resting the defenders, could you imagine how a defence containing Monrael and Jenkinson would get on against Liverpool? If he was planning on resting the attacking department, it is hard to imagine what Bendtner, Gnabry and the neat but un-penetrative Rosicky could do against Liverpool?
The FA Cup is Arsenal's most likely trophy this season and although this should not lead to a defeatist attitude against Bayern, Wenger's XI should reflect Arsenal's desire to win the FA Cup.
Giroud is also dropped because he has looked increasingly leggy recently. Podolski has far more mobility and that should bring out the best of German team mate Mesut Ozil. Ozil thrives on mobile players and it is widelt believed Giroud has been holding back Ozil showing the best of his abilities.
Also, Liverpool are terrible against defending pace. Arsenal passed the ball so lethargically last time; with the likes of Wilshere and Chainberlain aiding Ozil and Podolski, Arsenal should be able to score more than the one goal they did last time. If Fulham can manage it, I see no reason why Arsenal cannot.