Arsenal have drawn Oxford United in the FA Cup 3rd round. The Gunners will make the hour and a half trip west to Kassam Stadium in Oxford on January 7th, four days after facing Newcastle in the Premier League and eight days before traveling to Tottenham. Oxford, currently 13th in League One, are managed by Karl Robinson, a former journeyman pro in the lower leagues.
The two clubs have played 9 times, and Arsenal have managed a 4-3-2 record against Oxford. The majority of those meetings came in the mid-80’s when the two clubs were in the top flight together, then called League Division One. The two most recently met in the FA Cup in 2003: Arsenal won 2-0.
Mikel Arteta should be able to win away to Oxford without using his top players, but in the FA Cup, nothing is guaranteed. I don’t think the possibility of the “magic of the cup” going against his side will trouble Arteta, however. He seemed unconcerned with Arsenal bowing out of the Carabao Cup to Brighton in early November.
The reality is that Arsenal do not have the squad depth to go for it in the domestic cups, compete for a Champions League finish in the Premier League, and make a real run at the Europa League. I’m sure that’s the end goal — to assemble a squad capable of competing for multiple trophies in a season — but Arsenal aren’t there yet.
And nor should the Gunners be focused on the cups, either. They have an outside shot at winning the Premier League (36% according to 538.com or 2/1 odds or so compared to Manchester City’s 1/2 if you want betting lines) and are the favorites to win the Europa League (+400 most places). If they can put together an FA Cup run to extent their record 14 wins, great. If not, whatever.
The marquee matchup of the round is Manchester City against Chelsea. We’ve also got Liverpool-Wolves, Brentford-West Ham, and Crystal Palace-Southampton for matches between two Premier League clubs. Non-league sides Chesterfield and Wrexham made the third round and may be joined by fellow National League club Dagenham & Redbridge, who have a replay against Gillingham for a chance to face Leicester City.
Any particular matches y’all are interested in? I know that Nathan will be watching Forest Green Rovers vs Birmingham City - he supports Hector Bellerin’s green-initiative club.
The draw in full:
Arsenal vs Oxford United
Preston North End vs Huddersfield Town
Middlesbrough vs Brighton and Hove Albion
Chesterfield vs West Bromwich Albion
Manchester City vs Chelsea
Charlton or Stockport vs Walsall
Boreham Wood vs Accrington Stanley
Tottenham vs Portsmouth
Derby County vs Barnsley
Norwich City vs Blackburn Rovers
Cardiff City vs Leeds United
Brentford vs West Ham United
Bournemouth vs Burnley
Coventry City vs Wrexham
Aston Villa vs Stevenage
Luton Town vs Wigan Athletic
Fleetwood Town vs QPR
Liverpool vs Wolves
Grimsby Town vs Burton Albion
Blackpool vs Nottingham Forest
Dag & Red or Gillingham vs Leicester City
Forest Green Rovers vs Birmingham City
Bristol City vs Swanser City
Hartlepool vs Stoke City
Crystal Palace vs Southampton
Millwall vs Sheffield United
Shrewsbury vs Sunderland
Sheffield Wednesday vs Newcastle United
Manchester United vs Everton
Reading vs Watford
Ipswich vs Rotherham
Hull City vs Fulham