Arsenal’s priority this season is winning the Premier League, but they will still be eyeing additional silverware when they begin their FA Cup campaign at Oxford on Monday.
The record 14-time FA Cup winners lost out in last season’s third round to Nottingham Forest, having been beaten at the second hurdle by Southampton in the previous season’s competition.
Will they avoid an upset against an Oxford side whose form suggests they have become distracted by Monday’s mega-tie?
The League One U’s are a club with decent cup pedigree, most recently reaching the fifth round in 2016-17 when they counted Newcastle among their victims.
Karl Robinson will be desperate to cause an upset, but opposite number Mikel Arteta will not be taking anything for granted in a tournament he won twice as a player, and which has provided his sole major silverware as a coach.
Oxford vs Arsenal Betting Tips
- #PickYourPunt Arsenal to win, ‘No’ both teams to score and Oxford to have over 4.5 corners @ 4/1
- Fabio Vieira to score @ 6/5
Oxford’s recent issues have been in attack and revolve around the absences of Kyle Joseph and Sam Baldock, who will again be missing on Monday.
Marcus Browne is also still sidelined with a hamstring injury, but Robinson could hand a debut to Brandon Fleming following his loan signing from Hull City.
Arsenal will again be without Gabriel Jesus and Reiss Nelson due to knee and thigh issues, respectively, but Emile Smith Rowe could be fit having not featured since September due to a groin injury.
Matt Turner will likely play in goal, while Rob Holding, Kieran Tierney, Fabio Vieira and Mohamed Elneny should start. However, Cedric Soares may not feature due to the ongoing speculation surrounding his future and a potential move to Fulham.
#PickYourPunt Arsenal to win, ‘No’ both teams to score and Oxford to have over 4.5 corners @ 4/1
A big part of Arsenal’s success this season has been their stingy defence, conceding just 14 times in 17 Premier League games, a tally second only to Newcastle United.
Arteta is sure to shake things up at the back, but can still call on experienced players such as Holding and Tierney.
Meanwhile, goalkeeper Turner may have seen his game time limited since moving to the Emirates in the summer but should not be rusty.
The 28-year-old played every minute as the USA reached the last 16 of the World Cup and impressed with a string of sharp performances.
It is also worth noting that Oxford’s recent issues have been primarily caused by a lack of goals, netting just five times in their last six League One matches.
However, they often enjoy plenty of territory, especially at home, where they average 6.75 corners per game.
The U’s will give it a go but Turner, Holding and Tierney et al. should be good enough to keep them at bay and the quality ahead of them should ensure the Gunners do not endure a second straight third round exit.
Fabio Vieira to score @ 6/5
The Portuguese prodigy has struggled to make a consistent impact since joining from FC Porto in the summer and has seen his minutes reduced in recent months.
However, after failing to get off the bench in Tuesday’s 0-0 against Newcastle, Vieira looks sure to start at the Kassam Stadium and will be one of several players looking to prove a point to Arteta.
The 22-year-old’s last start came in November’s 3-1 EFL Cup defeat to Brighton, while he also made the XI for all six of Arsenal’s Europa League group games.
With two goals for the season, there is potential to add to that tally on Monday. His ability to both shoot from distance and glide into the box make his odds of 6/5 in the anytime market something to look for.
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