The lowest ranked team left in the competition intend to do some giant killing when Lincoln take on Arsenal at the Emirates
Further pressure has been heaped on Arsene Wenger and his future at the club has become increasingly uncertain after Arsenal suffered a second 5-1 humiliation against Bayern Munich on Tuesday. They were never going to pull off a Barcelona style miracle, but no one expected them to exit Europe on a 10-2 aggregate loss. It was the fifth defeat in the last seven matches for the Gunners, they lost away matches to Chelsea and Liverpool in the Premier League as well as a 2-1 loss hosting Watford at the end of January. The 3-1 loss at Anfield last Saturday saw them drop out of the top four in the league.
Their last win was in the FA Cup when they won 2-0 against Sutton on their plastic pitch however, it’s important not to lose perspective. Arsenal have lost just four matches at the Emirates in all competitions this season. In the FA Cup they’ve been largely untroubled, beating Preston, Southampton and Sutton with relative ease. After Tuesday’s capitulation to the German giants, Wenger should field a strong team if just to avoid any further aggression from his critics and restore some confidence in the squad.
While Arsenal went out of the last 16 stage of the Champions League for the seventh successive season, non-league Lincoln were battering Braintree 4-0. It was their tenth match unbeaten after winning eight and drawing two, in fact they’ve lost just three from their last thirty-five. The Imps are six points clear at the top of the National League and beat Guiseley, Altrincham, Oldham, Ipswich, Brighton and Premier League Burnley at Turf Moor, to become the first non-league side in 103 years to reach the sixth round of the FA Cup.
As much as Lincoln fans and the neutral alike would relish an upset, there is a massive difference in class between the teams. It will be interesting to see if manager Danny Cowley intends to focus on defence, not affording much opportunity to break while avoiding a hammering. Or if he’ll risk throwing everyone forward with the hope of getting a dream goal. Netting a quarter-final goal at the Emirates would be an incredible achievement itself.
This will be the first meeting between the sides with Lincoln expecting a fully fit squad while Arsenal’s Danny Welbeck and Alex Iwobi remain uncertain following sickness. After Arsenal’s recent catastrophes, Lincoln will be dreaming of Wembley but they have a difficult task ahead of them.