Sutton’s FA Cup fairytale continues with the forthcoming visit of Arsenal. Tayo Oladotun reports.
Sutton United have hit the jackpot, having been drawn against Premier League giants Arsenal in the fifth round of the Emirates FA Cup. For many players, this will be a once in a lifetime dream tie, and they will cherish the moment regardless of the end result.
Non-league Sutton have shown no fear thus far, dispatching of League 2 Cheltenham, League 1 and local rivals AFC Wimbledon, and Championship side Leeds United. Defeat for Arsenal would be humiliating.
Speaking to Sutton manager Paul Doswell before the first AFC Wimbledon tie he said “Well obviously initially I wanted one of the big boys there’s no doubt about that. I thought that Wimbledon for us being a local derby, there’d be huge interest in the game. [That’s] if you couldn’t get a Man U or a Liverpool or an Arsenal.” He’s certainly got his wish now.
Sutton’s 3G pitch is another concern for Arsenal. It might affect their play, as they’re not used to it. This could work greatly in Sutton’s favour and could end up producing the biggest shock of the FA Cup this season.
The first match at Gander Green Lane between Sutton and AFC Wimbledon in the third round, ended in a 0 – 0 draw. Sutton looked the most likely to grab a winner. It’s no coincidence the surface played a part with that, and manager Doswell admits it too. Speaking before the 0 – 0, he said “I think it’ll be a good game. I think our best chance is here because it’s obviously on a surface that we know better than them – in saying that, it’s an excellent playing surface here. It is a different surface to grass, so from our point of view our best chance is here probably. On the day and we’ll give it our best shot.”
Most of Sutton United players are part-timers. Captain Jamie Collins is a builder as well as the man who scored the winner against Leeds. On paper, this is a complete mismatch, but the beauty of the cup is that it causes upsets.
The atmosphere could affect the Gunners as they are used to hosting around about 60,000 week in week out. Having been allocated just 750 away tickets, they could have a real cup tie on their hands. The game is played on Monday 20th of February 2017, 8PM Kick Off. A date no one at Sutton will ever forget.