Arsenal vs Middlesbrough: Match Preview

Arsenal will want to move to one step closer to retaining the FA Cup when they host Middlesbrough at the Emirates on Sunday.

Arsene Wenger’s side have been installed as favourites to retain the trophy that they won last May after sides such as Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester City all crashed out in the last round. Their recent record in competition stands in good stead of progressing being undefeated in the last eight matches in competition and are unbeaten in the last six matches in all competitions against Middlesbrough.

Despite this record Wenger is way of their opponents saying: "We will not have the excuse to be surprised because they beat Manchester City in a convincing way,"

"That is a good warning for us. We are at home, we have a possibility to go to the quarter-finals so we cannot be surprised by them, that's for sure.”

The Frenchman has every right to be wary as his opponents will not be any pushover by any stretch of the imagination. Middlesbrough currently sit at the top of the Sky Bet Championship having won their last six games in a row and have only lost once of their last 19 games and caused a major upset in the last round deservingly beating Premier League champions Manchester City.

There is a very good chance of an upset but boss Aitor Karanka is wary of his Premier League opponents.

He said: It is going to be difficult, very difficult. Arsenal are a Champions League team with an amazing squad, you can say that they have some players injured but they still have a very strong squad. It’s a good challenge for us.”

Midfielder Aaron Ramsey is the latest Arsenal recruit to join the injury table after hurting his hamstring against Leicester City midweek, the Welshman joins Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (groin), Mikel Arteta (ankle) Mathieu Debuchy (shoulder) and Abou Diaby (calf) on the side-lines. Alexis Sanchez (knee) is a doubt but Jack Wilshere could return to first team action after returning to full training and new signing Gabriel could make his debut at the back against the North East outfit.

Boro have been handed a double blow at the back ahead of this tie, Daniel Ayala is out for a month after picking up a muscle injury in the victory over Blackpool in midweek while on-loan Tomas Kalas is ineligible to play at the Emirates. George Friend is expected to return after missing the trip to Bloomfield Road through illness as well as Ryan Fredericks.

Written by Danial Kennedy [@Danialkennedy95]