Oxford United v Arsenal Cheat Sheet
Oxford United v Arsenal
Having partaken in and flirted with the League One play-off places for the last three seasons, 2022-23 feels a much flatter season for Oxford United and Karl Robinson. The U’s are 14th in the third tier table, one of four sides sat on 29 points at the time of writing, and a side probably for now more concerned with staying ahead of the bottom pack than pursuing the league’s top places. Having beaten non-league Woking and fellow League One side Exeter City to reach the Third Round Proper, the FA Cup could provide some fresh excitement for fans at the Kassam Stadium during a quieter league campaign.
Oxford’s reward from the Third Round draw is the highest-ranked side in the competition. Arsenal are the Premier League’s outright leaders and continuing to defy the odds as the 2022-23 season progresses. Whether their place at the top of the table can be retained will vary depending on who you ask, but league matters are pushed to one side this Monday night as the Gunners focus on winning back a trophy their Spanish manager has already won at the helm of the club.
It’s been exclusively top flight opposition for Arsenal so far in domestic competitions, they’re only defeats coming in the league at Manchester United and in a disappointed League Cup defeat to Brighton and Hove Albion. Both of those victors are top end Premier League outfits however, something Oxford United are nowhere close to being.
Prior to a convincing 3-0 defeat at Ipswich Town on Boxing Day, the U’s had assembled a decent 10-game unbeaten run in all competitions, albeit six of those matches ended level rather than with victory. The U’s have already tasted defeat to Premier League opposition this season, going down 2-0 at home to a second string Crystal Palace side in the League Cup Second Round. Oxford’s back four of Ciaron Brown, Sam Long, Elliott Moore and Djavan Anderson contains player in unnatural positions, and Karl Robinson’s side are also having to currently persist with young Irish goalkeeper Ed McGinty between the sticks with main goalkeeper Simon Eastwood unavailable.
It’s unlikely Arsenal will be anywhere close to full strength for this game at the Kassam Stadium, and won’t in truth need to be to comfortably see off a weakened Oxford backline.
Arsenal should dominate the ball in this tie, with the majority of possession away from their own final third and penalty box. The question for most is how many could they beat Oxford United by, as well as how long after kick-off will they be able to break down what is likely to be a stubborn if weakened Oxford United backline. Oxford’s best attacking opportunities are likely to come on the counter attack with Arsenal numbers further forwards, and could be few and far between.
In situations like these, Oxford will look to their wide players in Billy Bodin, Josh Murphy, Tyler Goodrham or Yanic Wildschut to be their primary ball carriers whilst on the break. The versatile James Henry is a capable midfielder and winger who Oxford will hope to find not limited to exclusively defensive duties throughout this match. Breaking down the Arsenal defence will be a task much easier said than done however. Only Newcastle United have conceded fewer than the Gunners’ total of 14 goals across 17 league games this season.
A consolation goal of any form will be a cause for celebration from the Kassam Stadium crowd, whether or not the largely inconsistent U’s grab a goal however remains to be seen…
Oxford United’s top scorer this season, with six in League One and nine in all competitions. A consistent presence in midfield, who also benefits from his dead ball striking ability with both free-kicks and penalties, Brannagan is the star in Karl Robinson’s team. The 26-year-old is averaging 2.9 shots a game in League One, the most of any U’s player, and has in turn taken more shots than anyone else from the Oxfordshire outfit.
Only six third tier players have attempted more shots than him this season, all of them playing in much more advanced positions than the former Liverpool youth graduate. Brannagan provided the third goal in Oxford’s 4-1 victory over Exeter City in the Second Round, and will be eyeing up the opportunity to score a Third Round goal on Monday night.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
18+ please gamble responsibly.
Haven’t got a Paddy Power account? You’re in luck…
Sign up to Paddy Power and get a full refund if your first bet loses. Grab an account through the offer below and place £30 on the 6/1 Oxford United v Arsenal Bet Builder. Here are the two possible outcomes:
* I recommend waiting for confirmed team line-ups before placing any bets *
* All odds displayed correct at the time of publishing *