By Scott Sharba Within the last week Arsenal found out who their opponents in both the FA Cup and Champions League Round of 16 will be. Personally, I couldn’t be any happier with the draws.
First off, let’s talk about the FA Cup. The 2013/2014 FA Cup final part deux will take place on Sunday, 4th of Januaryin between a run of winnable, yet congested fixtures. I see nothing but a victory for the Gunners at home. While Hull City are a fairly solid team they currently sit three points off the bottom of the table in 19th place. This is a squad that should get wiped aside by Arsenal, especially with the likes of Özil, Koscielny, and Ramsey all expected to be back from injury. You may say, “but Scott, they gave us a run for our money in the final last season.” To that I say, “nah.” We gifted them their two early goals and I do not see us making those mistakes again. We are the current holders and it is expected that the players want to hold onto their cup. Hull also will not have the energizing high running through their veins that is playing in a cup final. I’m calling a comfortable stroll into the 4th round (where knowing our luck we’ll draw Chelsea away.)
Now this brings me to the real deal; the Champions League knockout stage. This is where Arsenal find themselves welcoming French side Monaco on Wednesday the 25th of February and heading to the Stade Louis II on Tuesday the 7th of March. This draw has not been kind to Arsenal in recent years seeing Bayern twice, AC Milan, and Barcelona. Arsene must have been doing some ju-ju magic over the weekend to see us come out of the group stages with arguably the best draw we could have asked for.
In terms of league position Monaco are no better off than we are, they currently sit 6th in Ligue 1, but the Premier League is by far a more competitive league. Monaco had an impressive defensive record in the group stages with only conceding once, that was against teams such as Leverkusen, Zenit, and Benfica though. None of those teams come close to the fire power we possess. With the French side also only scoring 4 over the 6 group matches, I foresee a rather routine two games for our defense (granted everybody is fit.) With the rather large possibility of the gunners meeting with the winner of Porto and Basel, we could easily find ourself in the semis. Could this be Arsenal’s year? I have my cannons crossed.