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Arsenal vs. Leeds: FA Cup match preview

Kickoff: 7:45 AM EST, Emirates Stadium
TV Coverage: Fox Soccer Plus, (for subscribers), Fox Soccer iPhone app

Arsenal welcomes Championship side Leeds United to the Emirates tomorrow for the third round of the FA Cup.  Simon Grayson's side won promotion to the Championship this year and are doing very well at the moment, sitting fifth with 41 points from 26 matches and only two points shy of second-place Cardiff.

Leeds' attacking threats come primarily in the form of Argentine striker Lucchiano Becchio (12 league goals), Ivorian midfielder Max Gradel (8), and English midfielder Jonathan Howson (7).  Their goalkeeper is Kasper Schmeichel, son of Peter, and keeper for the Sven-Goran Eriksson-era Manchester City team.  Leeds' recent league form hasn't been stellar; they haven't won in their last four matches and just lost to their aforementioned title rivals Cardiff.

This, of course, is not your older brother's Leeds team; gone are the days of Lee Bowyer (hi, Lee!), Rio Ferdinand, Harry Kewell, Alan Smith, et al.  Gone are the days of kicking teams off the pitch.  Arsenal player Sanchez Watt is a current loanee at Elland Road. [Ed. note: the fact that I manage Leeds in my Football Manager save has no bearing on the above defense, I swear.  Stop looking at me like that.]

Arsène Wenger will no doubt make a large number of changes to his side.  Bacary Sagna (suspension), Abou Diaby, Manuel Almunia, and Thomas Vermaelen are all unavailable.  Robin van Persie and Samir Nasri both picked up knocks in the City match.  Tomorrow should provide Wenger an excellent chance to give some fringe players; in addition to Denilson, Tomas Rosicky, Andrei Arshavin (to think - a fringe player, with the numbers he has, and yet, that's how it appears at the moment!), Emmanuel Eboué, and Kieran Gibbs.

Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and Carlos Vela both could also feature, although it looks likely that both will be going out on loan this month.

And the manager has declared that Aaron Ramsey will be in the squad.  One doubts whether he'll start, but it's great to have him involved again.

Possible lineup:


Eboue         Squillaci        Djourou        Gibbs

Rosicky       Denilson

Fabregas (?)

Bendtner        Chamakh        Arshavin