Lincoln’s giantkillers lie in wait for Arsene’s Arsenal

Arsene Wenger says fans opinion of him may be a factor in whether he decides to stay. pic John Walto

Arsene Wenger says fans opinion of him may be a factor in whether he decides to stay. pic John Walton/Empics. - Credit: EMPICS Sport

With all the drama and intrigue Arsenal have attracted in 2017 and following a humiliating Champions League exit at the hands of German giants Bayern Munich, 10-2 on aggregate, you could be forgiven for forgetting the club is only one game away from Wembley.

It may even come as something of a relief for beleaguered boss Arsene Wenger to have the luxury of an FA Cup quarter-final home tie against a nonleague team from the fifth tier.

But that would do an enormous disservice to the spectacular progress Lincoln City have made under their progressive management pairing of brothers Danny and Nicky Cowley.

The Imps are unbeaten in 16 games in all competitions ahead of their fairytale David-v-Goliath tie at the Emirates on Saturday for a chance to play at Wembley in the semi-finals on April 22-23.

With Lee Angol scoring a hat-trick on his debut and Nathan Arnold also netting in a 4-0 win at Braintree on Tuesday – as the Gunners were losing 5-1 at home to Bayern Munich – to go six points clear at the top of the National League the team from Sincil Bank should not be underestimated.

Speaking after a second humiliation in three weeks by the crack Bundesliga giants Wenger said: “What happens next is that we have to change by winning on Saturday. That is what needs to change. “We play the quarter-finals of the FA Cup on Saturday and we have to do our job. We have to focus well for Saturday and prepare to our usual standards”

Lincoln will know all about struggles since they were relegated from the league five years ago. In all that time they have never finished higher than 13th, but with the Cowley brothers at the helm hopes are high for promotion – not to mention dreams of what would quite simply be the biggest upset in the history of the FA Cup should the non-league minnows beat Wenger’s embattled men.

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Speaking after their superb 1-0 victory at Turf Moor over Premier League Burnley in the last round, Danny Cowley said: “Lincoln kind of drifted and lost its way a little bit since they got relegated like it was in mourning. But we’ve come in and have an enthusiasm and a focus. “We’ve got some fantastic people around the club and we’ve inherited some good players which we’ve added to. They’ve been a credit to us and the club. We will be ourselves at the Emirates – which is down-to-earth, humble, honest and hard-working.”

Saturday’s meeting will be the first between the two sides since March 1915 – when Lincoln won 1-0 in front of a crowd of 6,000 a month before the fateful Gallipoli campaign began during the First World War.

The Imps are unbeaten in their last three matches against Arsenal, albeit dating back more than 100 years, and having earned £2million from their cup run so far this season – and given Arsenal’s poor run of form – all eyes will be on North London at 5.30pm to see if they can make it four.

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