Arsene Wenger says he’s known for more than a week who he’ll select for Monday’s game with Sutton United.
The Gunners take on the non-league minnows at Gander Green Lane in the FA Cup fifth round knowing anything other than a comprehensive victory will further raise tensions at the Emirates.
Bullish in the face of speculation about his future, the boss made clear that the FA Cup is always one of the club’s targets.
“The FA Cup is one of our targets and it’s the next game for us to bounce back after the game we had,” said the boss.
“It’s a very important game but it always was in my head.”
He added: “I always had in my mind that it was a very important game, Sutton. In my head I had the team who will start and play there for a week or ten days now. The result in Bayern Munich will not influence that selection.”
Nine days ago Sutton United crashed out of the FA Trophy in a 5-0 fifth round replay defeat to Borehamwood; a club that the Gunners often play in pre-season.
Asked if he’d watched the game as part of his preparations for the trip to South London, the boss revealed he’d not been present but did know Monday’s opponents had made several changes to their lineup.
“They had six or seven players they didn’t play so they didn’t play with their regular team. As well, I expect a different completely different game against us.
“It will be the FA Cup with everybody supporting them. They’ve been preparing this game in their head for a long time with a huge enthusiasm so you cannot compare that to a game against Borehamwood.
“I did not go along. I was busy on the day.”
Sutton could field as many as three ex-Gunners in their team, including Craig Eastmond who once scored an own goal in a Champions League defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk. He talks how much he’s looking forward to the occasion here.