Sutton United vs Arsenal Preview: Out-of-form Gunners hoping to avoid huge FA Cup upset and reach last eight

Sutton United vs Arsenal Preview: Out-of-form Gunners hoping to avoid huge FA Cup upset and reach last eight

Arsene Wenger’s under-fire Arsenal side travel to Gander Green Lane under the lights on Monday to take on non-league Sutton United in the FA Cup fifth round.

Matthew Sheppard

Arsenal travel to non-league Sutton United on Monday night hoping to avoid what would be one of the FA Cup's greatest ever shocks and book their place in the quarter-finals of the competition.

From playing in front of 75,000 fans on Wednesday night in Munich to playing on an artificial pitch in front of 5,000 South Londoners at Sutton - it will certainly be a culture shock for Arsenal.

It has been yet another terrible week for the Gunners, following their 5-1 drubbing away at Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League earlier in the week, which all but means they will be eliminated at the last 16 stage once again.

The defeat in Germany on Wednesday night has only piled more pressure on Arsene Wenger as uncertainty is ever-increasing around the club about the under-fire manager's future.

And the possibility of crashing out of the FA Cup the hands of Sutton, sat 17th in the Vanarama National League, is almost unthinkable for Wenger and his side.

But this is the FA Cup, and Sutton have lived one of the greatest fairytales the cup has seen for many years, with a place in the last eight remarkably just 90 minutes away.

They will hope to follow in the footsteps of Lincoln City, who claimed a late 1-0 win at Burnley on Saturday to become the first non-league club to reach the quarter-finals in 103 years.

Crisis developing at Arsenal?

It wasn’t the scoreline in Munich on Wednesday that was damaging for Arsenal but rather the manner in which they completely capitulated.

At half-time, the Gunners were level with the Bundesliga giants. They had a vital away goal and a 1-1 scoreline had Arsenal fans pinching themselves.

The next 45 minutes was a complete and utter shambles, with the same old frailties appearing – Wenger's side proving mentally and tactically inferior.

The result threw Wenger’s future into doubt once again, with a lot of publications reporting that the end is near for the Frenchman at the North London outfit after 20 years' service. 

(Image by Getty Images/Matthlas Hangst)
(Image by Getty Images/Matthlas Hangst)

Reports also following the hammering in Munich have suggested dressing room bust-ups after the full time whistle, only adding to the utter mess that the club find themselves in at the moment.

So, a trip to Sutton is exactly what Arsenal don’t need on Monday night. It is yet to be confirmed what sort of side Wenger will bring to South London, but one thing for sure is, whichever team he picks, they will be in for a shock.

Defeat is simply not an option for Arsenal at Gander Green Lane, as their season threatens once again to spiral out of control.

Super Sutton

On the contrary, what a breath of fresh air Sutton United have been to the FA Cup this season, and on Monday night they will be aiming to continue their story by sending Arsenal away from Gander Green Lane with more than just a few burns from their artificial pitch.

Sutton have already seen off Cheltenham Town, Wimbledon and most recently Leeds United in their remarkable run to the fifth round of the competition.

(Image by Getty Images/Catherine Ivill - AMA)
(Image by Getty Images/Catherine Ivill - AMA)

Though currently sit 17th in the National League, the distraction of this incredible FA Cup run has been exactly what the club has needed and they surely don’t want this fairytale to ever end.

It will be a special night especially for both Roarie Deacon and Craig Eastmond, who have connections with Arsenal from their younger days.

Deacon and Eastmond both came through the academy at Arsenal, with Eastmond featuring several times in the Premier League for the Gunners.

No matter what happens, it will be a very special night that everyone connected with Sutton United will not forget for a lifetime.

Team News

The Gunners are going to be without captain Laurent Koscielny on Monday night as the Frenchman picked up a hamstring injury in the defeat at the Allianz Arena in the week.

Aaron Ramsey will still be missing from the squad as the midfielder also recovers from a muscular injury picked up at the end of January.

When speaking to the media on Friday, Wenger stated that he will bring a strong side to South London on Monday night because the Gunners don't have another game until March 4th, when they travel to Liverpool in the Premier League.

Sutton will welcome back former Arsenal midfielder Craig Eastmond to their side, as his three-game ban has finished.

The home side though will be without Ben Jefford, Jack Jebb and Craig Dundas, as the three are all cup-tied and will be ineligible to play any part on Monday night.