Wenger up for the cup
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has warned he will not accept another early FA Cup exit this season when north-London rivals Tottenham come to the Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners - whose last trophy was some nine years ago when Patrick Vieira lifted the famous old trophy in Cardiff - crashed out 1-0 at home to Blackburn in the fifth round which all but ended any hopes of silverware.
This year, though, Wenger's squad head into the FA Cup leading the Barclays Premier League and determined to finally end almost a decade without success.
"I had the luck to win four FA Cups, that means I always put the effort in. I am very keen to do it again, it is a long time now," Wenger said.
"Honestly I still have in my mind the fact that we went out last year at home against Blackburn, that was not good enough for us and we have to make sure we absolutely put the effort in to have the chance to go through."
Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert may feel the upcoming Premier League showdown with Arsenal is of more importance than their own FA Cup ambitions this season, but Wenger would love to get his hands on the famous old trophy once again.
"I don't believe that at all. We have not won trophies for a long time, it's an opportunity that we want to take that we consider," the French coach added.
"On top of that we have afterwards nine days until the next Premier League game, we can give absolutely everything in this game."
Wenger continued: "It is the beginning of January after a heavy schedule in the Premier League and you want to keep your focus and get into the competition with full power.
"We haven't drawn a small team, so we are warned that it will just be another top-level game and that is the advantage of having a big opponent - your team is focused naturally."
Spurs have found some form under new boss Tim Sherwood to record a hard-earned 2-1 win at Manchester United on New Year's Day.
Wenger said: "If you look at their overall record since the start of the season, it isn't a bad record at all, so I am not surprised that Tottenham can win football games.
"With Soldado and Adebayor, they have found a balance and at the moment that suits the team well.
"They always looked dangerous at Manchester United and that is certainly the pair that we will have to keep quiet."
Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud is doubtful following illness and an ankle problem.
German playmaker Mesut Ozil faces a fitness test on his shoulder injury, but forward Nicklas Bendtner (ankle) is definitely out, along with defender Kieran Gibbs (calf) and midfielder Aaron Ramsey (thigh).
Tottenham's patched-up "warrior" Emmanuel Adebayor is fighting fit and raring to terrorise Arsenal, according to Spurs boss Sherwood.
There had been doubts about whether Adebayor would be able to play against his old team after he was carried off on a stretcher in the second half of Tottenham's at Manchester United.
The striker has been passed fit though and he looks set to start Saturday's FA Cup third round tie at the home of Tottenham's most bitter rivals.
"It didn't look great when he came off on that stretcher but he is a warrior," Sherwood said.
"He had cramp in every part of his body. We weren't sure what (part of his body) to rub and put ice on next.
"He was really struggling but there is no holding him back at the moment."
Sherwood put faith in Adebayor when he took the helm and the Togolese has not let his new manager down.
Despite playing only 45 minutes under Andre Villas-Boas, Adebayor has looked sharp since his return, scoring four of the 10 goals Tottenham have scored under their new head coach.
There will be extra motivation for the player to perform well at the Emirates too as he has had a series of run-ins with the Arsenal fans since he left in 2009.
Sherwood believes the Gunners will be dreading the prospect of facing their former star.
"It's huge for us that he is back," Sherwood said. "When Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal players and their fans saw him come off at Old Trafford, I'm sure they were pleased.
"But unfortunately he's going to be walking out against them tomorrow."
Winger Andros Townsend, midfielder Lewis Holtby and striker Jermain Defoe returned to training on Friday and look set to feature along with Adebayor, but midfielder Erik Lamela (thigh) is a doubt.
Source : PA