Francis Coquelin’s return to the Arsenal squad for the FA Cup fourth round tie with Burnley will hand Arsene Wenger’s side a major lift following last Sunday’s league defeat by Chelsea.
Burnley visit the Emirates six days after Diego Costa’s match-winning goal prevented the Gunners returning to the top of the Premier League.
The way Wenger’s FA Cup holders respond against a side challenging for promotion from the Championship will be a test of character.
And Coquelin’s return two months after suffering knee ligament damage at West Bromwich Albion will help Arsenal recover from their latest stumble.
Wenger’s side have stuttered in recent weeks, winning just two of their last six league games.
And while the championship is clearly the club’s priority this season, progress towards a third successive FA Cup triumph will provide a welcome confidence boost.
Coquelin is expected to start on the bench and could be joined by Tomas Rosicky who made a 45-minute appearance for the club’s Under-21 side last week.
With Alexis Sanchez having returned following a hamstring problem as a second half substitute against Chelsea and Danny Welbeck returning to full training, Arsenal’s injury list is finally shrinking.
In Manchester, Kevin de Bruyne will miss 10 weeks of City’s bid for success on four trophy fronts, starting with the visit to Aston Villa in the fourth round of the FA Cup on Saturday.
The Belgian international twisted his knee badly in an off-the-ball incident during the League Cup semi-final second leg victory over Everton on Wednesday, a win which carried City through to next month’s final against Liverpool.
But the knee ligament injury will keep de Bruyne out of that Wembley date, as well as both legs of City’s Champions League last 16 tie with Dynamo Kiev.
At Anfield, James Milner is confident Liverpool can end the current season with a trophy added to their illustrious cabinet, despite the side undergoing a period of transition under new manager Jurgen Klopp.
The Anfield club entertain West Ham in the fourth round of the FA Cup today having already tasted cup success this week when a dramatic penalty shoot-out win over Stoke carried them through to the League Cup final meeting with Manchester City next month.
“This club is built on success, they’re used to winning trophies,” said Milner. “We can win a trophy and be in the hunt for others during a transition season. The transition with the new manager and keep improving while getting a few players back.”
FA CUP FIXTURES
(Kick-off 6pm unless otherwise stated)
Arsenal v Burnley, Aston Villa v Manchester City, Bolton Wanderers v Leeds United, Bury v Hull City, Colchester United v Tottenham Hotspur (3.45pm),
Crystal Palace v Stoke City, Liverpool v West Ham United (8.30pm), Nottingham Forest v Watford, Oxford United v Blackburn Rovers, Portsmouth v
Bournemouth, Reading v Walsall, Shrewsbury Town v Sheffield Wednesday, West Bromwich Albion v Peterborough United.
Carlisle United v Everton (4.30pm), Milton Keynes Dons v Chelsea (7pm)