Feed on

Assuming the threat of a Covid-19 postponement does not rear its ugly head prior to kickoff … few fixtures can figure to be more fun than a festive home cup tie against lower league foes.  Unless Arsenal *uck it up of course.  We don’t often get to play League One teams so that novelty in itself should infuse a shot of adrenaline into the occasion. But Sunderland’s traveling supporters will most likely shout themselves silly even prior to kickoff, so the home fans will be needed to voice their support loudly and proudly as indeed they have done increasingly so far this season, especially in this competition where the crowd tends to be especially young and enthusiastic.

Arsenal reached the last eight by beating West Bromwich Albion, AFC Wimbledon and Leeds United, and in the process scoring an impressive 11 goals without conceding any.  The players will try to match or better their previous performances in this run, despite the unfortunate circumstance that goal difference in this competition does not also count in the Premier League table.

The Opposition

As of last February Sunderland’s new regime is under the direction of chairman Kyril Louis-Dreyfus, a member of the star-studded French aristocratic family of that surname (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis-Dreyfus#Surname).  In his few months in charge KLD’s wad of cash has not yet managed to propel the Black Cats skyward in the football pyramid as their history seems to demand, but the Louis-Dreyfus wealth seems to have instilled renewed hope at the long foundering club.

Sunderland won two F.A. Cups (1937 and 1973), and six First Division titles prior to the second world war.  Unfortunately for the Wearside gents, their mastery has been on the wane ever since, and their last serious shot at silverware came eight years ago when they lost the League Cup final to Manchester City.  They were most recently relegated from the Premier League in 2016-17, their last of 10 consecutive top flight seasons.  The next year they were relegated again to League One where the Black Cats have finished 5th, 8th, and 4th so far, and twice failed to win promotion through the playoffs. 

Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Ipswich helped Sunderland remain in third spot in the league after 22 matches played, so they will have promotion on their minds; but they do not have another league fixture until Monday away at Doncaster so should have all their attention focused on going to the races against the Gunners.  Sunderland reached the quarter-final round by defeating Blackpool, Wigan and Queen’s Park Rangers.  I don’t know anything about the current Sunderland side but minimal research revealed that 25 year-old Scotsman Ross Stewart has led their attack with 10 goals.  Manager Lee Johnson has promised that his side will offer a “blood and guts” performance so Arsenal might do well to conjure the mindset needed to play away at Burnley.

Arsenal XI

Recent reports suggest that Pablo Mari and Sambi Lokonga may miss the game due to Covid issues, and Mikel Arteta is expected to give a few of his regulars a breather considering fixture congestion.  Of course he will keep a few other regulars in the team to maintain continuity, and hopefully to assure that the quality of the team is good enough to advance.

Against Leeds in the previous round in late October, Calum Chambers, who had not kicked a competitive ball (in anger or otherwise) for nearly two months, and has been nearly invisible ever since, headed the match winner with his first touch as a substitute, and Eddie Nketiah made sure of the win by intercepting a back pass and tapping home.  Will Arteta reward Calum and Eddie by starting them against the Black Cats?  It’s possible if not likely, so I am randomly saying Eddie will start but Calum remain on the bench.  In the last round Mikel Arteta retained only two starters from the side he picked to start the previous league game, so it’s a bit unpredictable really.  I do expect him to pick a strong eleven with a blend of regular starters and regular benchwarmers, such as:


Cedric  Holding  Gabriel  Tierney

AMN  Chaka

Saka  Odegaard  Pepe


The ‘holics pound

Ladbrokes is offering a measly 2/11 odds on an Arsenal win so their experts are pretty optimistic about the Gunners’ chances.  If you want to make it a bit more sporting bet you might consider laying down some of your hard earned cash on Calum Chambers coming off the bench to score the winner for the second straight round, but I’m not sure it would be the wisest bet you ever made.  If I were actually a betting man I might put a tentative fiver on 4-1 to the Arsenal, so there’s the tip you’ve been scouring this article to find.  

This will probably be the last of our relatively easy passes into the later rounds so you will be excused if you let go after the game (as you sip your malts) with a round of “We’re gonna win the Cup!”  Not to expect anyone to jeopardize their dignity, of course.  Enjoy, ‘holics.

53 Drinks to “Arsenal v. Sunderland: Carabao Cup quarterfinals”

  1. 1
    Countryman100 says:

    Nice preview Bt8. This fixture was sold out a week ago, and season tickets are not valid for the league Cup. I really hope we take this very seriously and play a strong side. Not only because the next round is a two legged semi final with Wembley but also to keep the momentum of the last three wins going. I would probably play Nuno and leave Tierney on the bench and would play Balogun rather than Eddie.

  2. 2
    Trev says:

    Nice one, bt8.

    I’m with Countryman in hoping we play a strong side, not only to keep momentum going but also because this trophy is a route back into Europe should we win it – albeit the Europa League if we fall short of 4th place and miss out on a Champions League spot.

  3. 3
    TTG says:

    Nice preview Bt8
    Sunderland will have nothing to lose and I remember an FA Cup semi-Final in 1973 at Hillsborough which I expected us to stroll . Didn’t see a Sunderland supporter all day until I got to the ground when there were thousands . And they murdered us with the considerable help of Jeff Blockley . Thankfully they did the same to Leeds in the final .
    I agree with C100’s sentiments about the team selection . Nobody should be risked but we should put some quality on the pitch .
    I don’t think we will start Saka with ESR lightly raced recently and I think Nuno is a certainty to start . I think he will start with Eddie with Balogun a bench option ( you can use five subs )
    I have to believe we will win but it may take a while to subdue a spirited and confident side who may rise to the occasion . I’m expecting 2-0 win for Arsenal

  4. 4
    Trev says:

    Cynic, thanks for the heads up on the Ray Kennedy programme. Just finished watching it and it was the expected mix of happy memories of Highbury and the 1971 Double side, and great sadness at the fate of such a tremendous player.

    It was lovely to see the loyalty and friendship of players and officials of both his clubs. The illness had made him clearly so sad, you do have to wonder if he would have swapped his phenomenal haul of trophies and titles for his health.

    Not yet a month since he died. RIP Ray. One of the best.

  5. 5
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks bt8, good preview of the game. As you
    say it’s difficult to know who MA will select but
    your XI looks a decent stab at it. Assuming
    Auba is still not available it will be a good chance
    for Eddie to notch a couple – 3-0 to The Arsenal.

  6. 6
    North Bank Ned says:

    Good preview, bt8. I think ESR and one of the youngsters will start alongside Pepe in the midfield three with Saka putting his feet up on the bench unless needed late on. Tavares rather than Tierney at left-back, too. We should be able to win this without bringing on the heavy cavalry providing whatever XI is selected starts with pace and purpose.

  7. 7
    Ollie says:

    Does the league cup still qualify one for the Europa League? Guess City have won it so often we don’t know anymore…
    Didn’t know Sunderland were owned by the LDs, so it will be like beating Marseille again, double satisfaction!

  8. 8
    bt8 says:

    Interesting to see in his match preview that Blogs thinks Arteta ought to “rotate the bollix out of it” but I don’t think it will or should be quite that extreme. Worth reading his piece though. Also, my apologies for not coming up with a clever title but thanks for reading and commenting.

  9. 9
    bathgooner says:

    Good stuff, bt8. I think that your selection is close to what we will see but I also expect Tavares will replace Tierney and that Saka and Ødegaard will be rested. I wonder if the now fully rested ESR will get to start at ’10’ to help him back to full match sharpness (😉) and if Auba will begin his rehabilitation tonight. There are rumours also of the appearance of some of the very talented younger guns.

    If the trophy does offer a route to Europe then I can’t see us not making a decent effort to win this tie and progress to the semis but some important legs must be rested.


  10. 10
    Cynic says:

    Trev – You are most welcome. I, on the other hand, forgot it was on. Tool that I am.

  11. 11
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Enjoyable preview bt8! I like your line-up but my preferred would have a few alterations: Tavares for Tierney, Chambers for Cedric, Elneny for Xhaka, ESR for Saka and playing on the left, and Nico on the right. ESR came off the bench in last two matches and I think Saka has earned more of the rest.

    We may not really know what is going on with our contract talks with Eddie but maybe Mikel is trying to convince him to stay? Balogun looks to have a much higher ceiling, and hopefully an upcoming loan in the second half of the season would get him used to first team professional football.

    Hoping for the continuation of delightful football and comfortable win.

  12. 12
    bt8 says:

    I always thought Clattenburg was a level above most of the PGMOL clan, and here he proves it again: https://www.bbc.com/sport/football/59736316

  13. 13
    North Bank Ned says:

    Winning the Carabao Cup comes with an appropriate European qualification for next season: entry into the play-off round of the Europa Conference League.

  14. 14
    Trev says:

    Cynic – do try and catch a repeat – very good, moving program.

  15. 15
    Bathgooner says:

    Agreed bt8 @12. I think the Riley coven squeezed him out.

  16. 16
    Silly Second Yella says:

  17. 17
  18. 18
    Esso says:


    Leno, Cedric, White, Holding, Tavares, Elneny, Odegaard, Smith Rowe, Pepe, Nketiah, Balogun

    Subs: Ramsdale, Tierney, Gabriel, Partey, Xhaka, Patino, Saka, Martinelli, Lacazette

  19. 19
    Countryman100 says:

    Strong team and good bench. Odegaard sitting?

  20. 20
    Silly Second Yella says:

    We’re on our way

    We’re on our way

  21. 21
    ecg says:

    Surprised not to see Chambers and AMN in the lineup.

  22. 22
    Countryman100 says:

    Who would you drop?

  23. 23
    Countryman100 says:

  24. 24
    North Bank Ned says:

    A stronger team than I had expected but one that looks to be set up to play on the front foot from the off.

  25. 25
    scruzgooner says:

    bt8, nice preview. tough lineup call. looks like a strong team chosen, and a strong bench. hopefully who are on the pitch are enough to bring home the holics pound.

  26. 26
    ecg says:

    Thanks for the update C100. If they were available I would have Calum in for White and AMN for Odegaard.

  27. 27
    scruzgooner says:

    c100@19, maybe only mo sitting, with a strong 5 interchanging up front. or maybe a real 442, with pepe and esr on either side of mo and mø behind eddie and flo?

  28. 28
    North Bank Ned says:

    I wonder if AMN’s non-Covid-related illness is wantawayitis.

    Pleased for Rob that he gets the armband for this game.

    Hope, too, we get a look at Patino during the game.

  29. 29
    scruzgooner says:

    capitaolan rob!

  30. 30
    North Bank Ned says:

    Scruz@27: Mo to MØ to Flo, or even Mo to MØ to Patino would be up there with Xhaka to Saka to Laca for a pre-assist, assist and goal.

  31. 31
    North Bank Ned says:

    It was nice to see Jack snuck into one of the pre-match training photos on the club site.

    There are also a couple of shots of Laca playing in goal. Now that would have been imaginative team rotation…

  32. 32
    scruzgooner says:

    ned@30, rotflmao

  33. 33
    bt8 says:

    Would like to hear the announcers contending with Mo to MØ. 😂

  34. 34
    Countryman100 says:

    Get in Eddie! A lovely bobbly one off his knee!

  35. 35
    Silly Second Yella says:




  36. 36
    Countryman100 says:

    Nico and Cedric combine beautifully for thecsecond

  37. 37
    Silly Second Yella says:


  38. 38
    Silly Second Yella says:

    2 -1

    fuck off

  39. 39
    scruzgooner says:

    it was needed for the holic pound, ssy

  40. 40
    Bathgooner says:

    2-0 up and cruising then that evil minx, complacency, slipped in, we lost focus and gave them acres of space to run into and score. Hope we can at least deliver on the Holic pound as a result.

  41. 41
    Silly Second Yella says:

    it’s a


  42. 42
    Gooner_KS says:

    Fcuuuk, that was sweeeet

  43. 43
    Silly Second Yella says:




  44. 44
    Countryman100 says:

    That fourth goal was pure filth. Lovely.

  45. 45
    Silly Second Yella says:

    n-n-n-n-nuno tavares

    n-n-n-n-nuno tavares

  46. 46
    Gooner_KS says:

    What a debut for Charlie, get iiiiiin

  47. 47
    Silly Second Yella says:

    Charlie can surf

  48. 48
    Esso says:

    Top result, fair performance.

  49. 49
    Silly Second Yella says:

    crying and farting all the way back to wearside


  50. 50
    North Bank Ned says:

    What a debut for Patino! Three poacher’s goals from Nketiah and Pepe strutting his stuff with aplomb. If only they could play like that week in, week out in the league.

    All round, professional performance against a team that looked too good for League One, although we were a bit saggy on either side of their goal.

  51. 51
    bt8 says:

    We’re gonna win the cup!

  52. 52
    bt8 says:


    When’s the last time we played a two legged semifinal in a domestic cup?

  53. 53
    Bathgooner says: