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Nervous... Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta will hope his side put on a professional display to get past Oxford in their FA Cup third round clash. Image Credit: Action Images via Reuters

Dubai: Arsenal suffered an FA Cup third-round exit last year against Nottingham Forest and they will be hoping to avoid another upset when they face Oxford.

The Gunners are the most successful team in FA Cup history having won the tournament a record 14 times. Mikel Arteta’s side have been in scintillating form this season and will feel confident of extending their record but they could face a tricky night at the Kassam Stadium against the U’s who have already seen off Woking and Exeter City.

Glamour tie

It has earned them a glamour tie against the English Premier League leaders and they will do all they can to make life hard for the North Londoners. The League One side have progressed beyond round three in three of the last six seasons and managed to get as far as the fifth round in 2016-17. The Kassam faithful will be dreaming of a historic giant killing act against their much-fancied rivals however recent form may not inspire much confidence.

Karl Robinson’s side have recorded only one win from their last five matches in all competitions and have kept just one clean sheet in 11. It’s no surprise that they find themselves 15th in the table and the prolific Gunners will be keen to exploit their hosts’ defensive frailties.

Arteta’s side drew a blank in their last outing against Newcastle United in the league but they are still five-points ahead of Manchester City at the top of the table. With league issues put aside, the focus will be on getting past Oxford and going all the way to potentially lifting a fifth FA Cup title in just 10 seasons. They last won it in 2020 when they beat Chelsea in the final but since then they have been dumped out in the fourth round by Southampton and Forest.

Depleted attack

A lack of attacking options is not what Oxford would have wanted before welcoming the best team in England this season but that is the reality of the situation. They will be without attacking midfielders Kyle Joseph and Sam Baldock while striker Marcus Browne is still recovering from a hamstring injury. That leaves Matty Taylor or teenager Gatlin O’Donkor to spearhead the depleted attack.

Arsenal will have to do without Gabriel Jesus and Reiss Nelson but should have Emile Smith Rowe available to make his first appearance since September. But with one eye on next weekend’s North London derby in the Premier League, Arteta could make several changes to the side. Even with the second-string taking to the pitch there should be nothing other than a routine away win and a place in the fourth round for the 14-time winners. That said, this is the FA Cup and that means there is every chance of an upset.