ESPN FC Extra: Premier League Hall of Fame
Nicklas Bendtner is fit to return to the Arsenal lineup for Friday night’s FA Cup fourth round clash against Coventry City at Emirates Stadium.
• Mangan: Flashback to January 2004
Bendtner has been sidelined with ankle injury he sustained when scoring a late goal for the Gunners in the 2-0 Premier League win over Cardiff.
A sell-out crowd will witness the tie between Premier League leaders Arsenal and their League One opponents, with Wenger quick to remind his players of the perils of playing against lower league rivals after their most recent FA Cup exit against Blackburn in last season’s competition.
“Last year was a big disappointment,” Wenger said of the 1-0 home defeat against Blackburn in the fifth round of last season's FA Cup “It was first time in 16 years we lost to lower league opposition in the FA Cup. It was a great warning. This is just our next game and we want to win it.”
Wenger went on to suggest the FA Cup had lost some of the sparkle it once possessed, yet he was determined to promote the virtues of a competition that served up some of his earlier memories of the game.
“The only competition I could watch in France when I was a kid was the English FA Cup final. On black and white television, we saw every year the cup final. It is a very prestigious competition for me,” he said.
“It’s true that maybe it has not got the glamour any more nowadays that it had in the 60s and 70s, but it is still a very important competition.
“I remember [as a kid] always admiring Wembley’s pitch. I used to play on really bad pitches and the white ball was also for me a dream. I played with balls with laces at the time, so that was something special to watch.”
Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey are back in training, but are not ready to play against Coventry, while Tomas Rosicky is still out with the nose injury he sustained against Aston Villa earlier this month.
Fit-again Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is pushing for a start as Wenger confirmed he will name a strong team against the Sky Blues.