LONDON (Reuters) – Holders Arsenal will not be surprised if Middlesbrough beat them in the fifth round of the FA Cup on Sunday after the Championship leaders knocked Manchester City out in the previous round, manager Arsene Wenger said.
The fourth round of football’s oldest knockout competition was full of major upsets as League One (third tier) Bradford City knocked Chelsea out before second tier Middlesbrough set up a trip to the Emirates, thanks to a 2-0 win at Manchester City.
“We won’t be surprised by them. We don’t have the excuse to be surprised as they beat Manchester City in a convincing way,” Wenger told a news conference on Friday.
“That is a good warning for us. Boro are not afraid to take on the big boys. They are well organised, play good football and they are very creative.
“The squad will not be rotated especially because it’s the FA Cup. Some players will play who have not played recently, but we treat this game exactly the same as a Premier League game.”
Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka said his side, who top the Championship table by a point from Bournemouth, have what it takes to cause another Cup shock.
“With the result at Manchester City in the last round, people are getting to know about us,” the Spaniard said.
“We’ve also gone top of the Championship as well, so I don’t think there will be any surprises for Arsenal on Sunday.
“Arsenal will of course pose a threat, but we can cause them problems when they don’t have the ball. The problem for us is how to keep the ball.
“We’ve not shown any fear against Premier League sides this season, and it will be the same against Arsenal. We want to show everyone what we can do.”
Karanka will come up against German World Cup winner Mesut Ozil on Sunday, a player he knows well from his time serving as Jose Mourinho’s assistant at Real Madrid.
“He’s a very good lad. I spent three seasons with him – he’s an amazing player and I hope on Sunday he doesn’t have his best day,” Karanka said.
“I hope he can rest for the league they have some important games coming up. But it’s not just Ozil… They have a lot of (dangerous) players.”