Pre-Match Report

Preview: Oxford United v Arsenal

Oxford United v Arsenal

We begin our quest to try and add a record-extending 15th FA Cup to our honours list when we head to Oxford United in the third round on Monday night.

It’ll be our first meeting with the U’s in 20 years, and our maiden trip to the Kassam Stadium as we take on the side currently 14th in League One, who beat Woking and Exeter City to make it this far.

Having suffered a shock exit at this stage of the competition last term at the hands of Nottingham Forest, it’s been 27 years since we last experienced third-round eliminations in successive seasons, as we aim to set up a fourth-round meeting at Manchester City.

Season of ups and down for U’s

Oxford United celebrate knocking Swansea City out of the Carabao Cup

Karl Robinson’s team come into this cup tie on the back of one win from their last six outings in League One, although that was a 3-1 home victory over Charlton Athletic in the final game of 2022.

A slow start to the season saw the U’s flirting with the drop zone in October, before they embarked on an unbeaten eight-game run that quickly edged them into the top half. However defeats to Ipswich Town and Exeter City either side of New Year’s Eve has seen them become entrenched in mid-table.

The FA Cup has brought some joy though, with Woking dispatched 2-1 away from home, before an emphatic 4-1 success over Exeter where Welsh international Billy Bodin netted a brace to take his competition tally to three this term.

Who to look out for

Marcus McGuane of Oxford United

Captain Elliot Moore is usually partnered in defence by one-time capped Scottish international Stuart Findlay, who arrived in the summer from Philadelphia Union. Left-back Ciaron Brown has two caps for Northern Ireland and Djanvan Anderson is a right-back previously on the books of Ajax, AZ Alkmaar and Lazio.

Long-serving midfielders Cameron Brannagan and James Henry have both played over 200 times for the club, with the former leading the goalscoring charts this term with nine strikes. Winger Bodin is next up with seven, who appeared once for Wales back in 2019.

Former Hale End graduate Marcus McGuane features in midfield, who played twice for us before moving to Barcelona in 2018. Wide midfielder Josh Murphy is the twin brother of Newcastle United’s Jacob, and Lewis Bate has impressed on loan from Leeds United.

What the managers say

Oxford United manager Karl Robinson

Arteta: "It’s always tricky, I’ve played there a few times and have experienced very difficult matches, so it will be difficult. We have to take the competition and the opponent very seriously and play well, to a high level to win the match.

"From what we’ve seen they’ve played in different ways, and result-wise as well they’ve had a bit of everything. It’ll be a very special night and everybody will raise their level and it will be tough." - read every word from his pre-match press conference

Robinson: “This gives us a slight distraction from our league form, but if anybody watched our performances in the league for the last seven or eight games, we’ve been good.

“I’m sure the quality of Arsenal can knock us off our rhythm very quickly. We’ll have complete and upper respect for them, just like we have respect for Fleetwood the following week. We’ve just got to make sure we worry about ourselves, with the total respect we have for the opposition.”

Team news

Emile Smith Rowe during a training session

Gabriel Jesus and Reiss Nelson remain out with knee and hamstring injuries respectively, while Mikel Arteta revealed that Emile Smith Rowe could play some part if he continues to train well ahead of the game - read more about ES's recovery.

Oxford goalkeeper Simon Eastwood could be in line for a return after missing recent matches with a calf injury, while left-back Brandon Fleming completed his loan move from Hull City in time to be registered for this game.

Marcus Browne is also likely to miss out with a hamstring issue, while long-term injury victims Kyle Joseph and Sam Baldock are back in training.

Facts and stats

Eddie Nketiah scores against Portsmouth

We have progressed from our last 13 FA Cup ties against sides from outside the top-two divisions of English football, with the last coming against Portsmouth back in 2020. Wrexham were the last side not in the top-two leagues to eliminate us in January 1992, winning 2-1 as a fourth-tier side.

We have only been eliminated in two of our last 26 FA Cup third round ties, both times against Nottingham Forest in 2017/18 and 2021/22.

Oxford haven’t scored in any of their last five games against us in all competitions (D3 L2). The last U’s player to net was Billy Hamilton in a 3-0 win in May 1986 in the First Division.

The U’s have only progressed from one of their last eight FA Cup ties against Premier League teams, knocking out Swansea City in the third round in 2015/16.

Match officials

David Coote

David Coote is the man in the middle of this cup tie, in what will be his sixth game in charge of us - his first since the 3-0 win at Brentford back in September.

We have won three and drawn once under his watchful eye, with the only defeat coming last season when Brighton triumphed at the Emirates back in April.

VAR and goalline technology will not be in operation for this game.

  • Referee: David Coote
  • Assistant Referee 1: Lee Betts
  • Assistant Referee 2: Timothy Wood
  • Fourth Official: Michael Salisbury

Previous meetings

This will be the 10th time we have locked horns with the U’s, and the first for neatly exactly 20 years. 

Back in January 2003 we won 2-0 in a game notable for Dennis Bergkamp scoring his 100th goal for us that day, in a campaign where we went on to lift the trophy - read more about that afternoon.

Our last league encounter came in March 1988 when we played out a goalless draw at Oxford’s former home, the Manor Ground. In all, we have won four and drawn three of our previous fixtures against United.

No More Red 2023

Bukayo Saka, Rafaelle Souza, Reiss Nelson, Emile Smith Rowe and Leah Williamson in the No More Red shirt

This fixture will see us once again wear a special all-white strip, with the aim of raising awareness of our No More Red campaign, which aims to help keep young people safe from knife crime and youth violence. 

The kit will never be commercially available, and only be awarded to individuals who make a positive difference in the community by volunteering with our No More Red charity partners and organisations.

Find out more about the initiative and how you get get your hands on one of these limited-edition shirts.

Breakdown Live

Breakdown Live

Tune into and the official app an hour before kick-off where Nick Bright and Adrian Clarke will be at the helm from the Emirates.

They'll be discussing the No More Red campaign, looking at FA Cup third-round ties from years gone by and providing some insight into what problems our opponents might pose.

Then from 8pm, Dan Roebuck will be on live commentary duty at the Kassam Stadium, keeping you updated on all the goings-on.

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