Sunday's big FA CUP preview

West Ham United v Arsenal Sunday, January 3, 4.15pm Upton Park I DON T know what ITV are expecting from Sunday s live FA Cup third round tie, but it is looking increasingly like being a battle between two reserve and youth sides. Arsene Wenger is well kno

West Ham United v Arsenal

Sunday, January 3, 4.15pm

Upton Park

I DON'T know what ITV are expecting from Sunday's live FA Cup third round tie, but it is looking increasingly like being a battle between two reserve and youth sides.


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Arsene Wenger is well known for his use of the youngsters in the Carling Cup, and with Premier League games tonight (Wednesday) and then next Wednesday, he is likely to be sorely tempted to adopt that strategy again.

In some areas he has little choice anyway. Emmanuel Eboue has already left for the African Cup of Nations, while injuries to Nicklas Bendtner and Robin van Persie means the Gunners are looking decidedly lightweight up front.

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Add to that the likely loss of captain and talisman Cesc Fabregas with a hamstring injury and Arsenal have a threadbare look about them that you would not expect from a top-four side.

During the summer they sold Emmanuel Adebayor and Kolo Toure to Manchester City for a combined fee of �41million, with only Thomas Vermaelen's arrival for �10million cushioning that double blow.

Still, it hasn't been a bad season for the Gunners. They are the leading scorers in the Premier League with 47, and have already notched up wins at Liverpool, Wolves, Everton and Fulham this term.

But it seems that they are more inconsistent than usual with their surrendering of a two-goal lead at Upton Park back in October, illustrating that perfectly.

They have won their last two games 3-0, but before that slipped to a disappointing draw at Burnley, suggesting that West Ham are capable of causing an upset on Sunday.

Hammers fans will point to that magnificent FA Cup Final win over Arsenal back in 1980, as well as a 1-0 third round victory at Highbury in 1989 when Leroy Rosenior scored the winner.

But the last game between the two in the competition ended in heartbreak as it was Arsenal who went though to the semi-finals in 1998 with a penalty shoot-out victory.

The Gunners will certainly have the influential Alex Song in their midfield, as it is his last game before he too jets off to the African Nations competition, while Croatian Eduardo could well lead the line.

As to Arsenal's final line-up though, your guess is as good as mine, but with Guillermo Franco missing from West Ham's team through suspension, it is difficult to see where the home goals are going to come from.

Arsenal are there for the taking, but West Ham may not have the personnel to take advantage of it.

We may well hear the 'concentrating on the league line' by Sunday night!

POSSIBle team: Fabianski, Sagna, Traore, Silvestre, Gal-las, Ramsey, Song, Diaby, Nas-ri, Wilshere, Eduardo.

Prediction:

West Ham 0 Arsenal 1

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