By Joe Brewin
Theo Walcott wants to avoid a replay of last season’s fixture congestion and beat Leeds at the first time of asking in the FA Cup.
The Championship side head to Emirates Stadium on Monday night for a repeat of last season’s Third-Round tie, which Arsenal eventually won 3-1 at Elland Road after a 1-1 draw in north London.
Arsène Wenger has since admitted that a busy January schedule - comprising nine games - contributed to his side falling away last Spring and Walcott is determined to avoid a similar scenario.
“Getting Leeds yet again will be a nice battle,” he told Arsenal.com. “We found it quite difficult [last year] and went to a replay - but we don’t want that to happen this year, that’s for sure.
“We just have to try to shut them up very quickly, get an early goal and make sure we press them. If we press them they won’t be able to handle it.
“The fitness levels at our club are fantastic, so hopefully they [Leeds] won’t be able to last.”
Cesc Fabregas’ last-minute penalty salvaged a replay at the Emirates last season and Walcott knows Leeds will be up for another fight on the back of last season’s efforts.
“They have no fear, nothing to lose,” he said. “Obviously they are the underdogs and the manager also gives the younger players coming through a chance to show what they’ve got.
“When they see a different Arsenal team sheet they may think, ‘we can do this’. Their fans are always going to be loud as well, they’ll cheer them on no matter what the score is.Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source