Sky Sports pundit and former Arsenal striker Charlie Nicholas expects Wednesday’s North London derby at the Emirates to be a closely contested affair.
Nicholas has said that he expects both Arsenal and Tottenham to field strong teams as both Pochettino and Emery will view this as a great chance to win a trophy.
In fact, the 56-year-old reckons that the game at the Emirates will go right down to the wire, and maybe even to a penalty shoot-out.
He told Sky Sports: “It’s a competition Arsene Wenger wasn’t really too fussed about but get through this tie and Unai Emery has a fantastic opportunity of picking up a piece of silverware in his first season at the club.
“I think Emery will play a few of the kids but there will be plenty of recognised names in alongside them. I expect the Gunners to include Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette but I would like to see Bukayo Saka get another go and Ainsley Maitland-Niles play in a more central position. The big issue though is centre-back where they are really struggling for numbers.
“On the other hand, I’m not sure how Mauricio Pochettino will play this. The same can be said of him that he needs a trophy. The Spurs players need a trophy but are they prepared to put their neck on the line when they are going quite well in the league.
“I see a few changes on either side but I expect them to both be at about 75 per cent. I can see this going all the way to be honest before the drama of a penalty shootout. However, I’ll hang my hat on Arsenal.
“Prediction: 2-2 – Arsenal to win on penalties.”
The prediction isn’t all that surprising given that the fact that we know where Nicholas’ loyalties lie. Spurs fans will be hoping the Lillywhites can prove him wrong when the teams take to the pitch on Wednesday Night.
In the other fixtures, Nicholas unsurprisingly predicted Chelsea and Manchester City to overcome Bournemouth and Leicester respectively. Meanwhile, he expects Tony Pulis’ Middlesborough to have too much for Burton Albion.
The North London derby is undoubtedly the tie of the round and if either Bournemouth or Leicester pull-off a surprise, the winner of the derby could potentially find themselves with an easy route to the final.
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