Millions want us to beat Arsenal in FA Cup says Oxford United manager

Karl Robinson's League One side take on Mikel Arteta's Premier League leaders in third round on Monday

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Millions of neutrals will cheer on underdogs Oxford United as they take on high-flying Arsenal in the FA Cup, says manager Karl Robinson.

The League One side host Mikel Arteta's Premier League leaders in the third round on Monday.

And Robinson, whose side sit 15th in the third tier, believes his team will have the backing of much of the country against the 14-time FA Cup winners.

"We're massive underdogs, a League One side playing the best team in the country," said Robinson.

"But this is the FA Cup and we know anything can happen.

"With respect to the millions of Arsenal fans, we won't just have the support of Oxford United's fan base on Monday, we will have millions more people willing us on as underdogs."

Arteta, who could welcome back forward Emile Smith Rowe from a groin injury, is expected to shuffle his starting line-up for the clash at a sold-out at Kassam Stadium. But the Gunners, who last captured the trophy in 2020, are strong favourites to go through.

They are unbeaten in 11 games and have won nine of those to open up a five-point Premier League gap on second-placed Manchester City.

But Robinson added: "All we can promise is total commitment and passion. We can't wait."

Last season, Arsenal were knocked out by Nottingham Forest, who were then a Championship club, in the third round.

Arteta is keen to make up for that disappointment.

"It is a competition that brings back huge memories for our football club and the team, because not many years ago we won it," he said.

The Arsenal manager also dismissed criticism of his behaviour on the touchline after he clashed with Newcastle United boss Eddie Howe and match officials during last week's goalless Premier League draw at the Emirates Stadium.

Arteta repeatedly confronted the fourth official and had a bad-tempered exchange with Howe after referee Andrew Madley waved away appeals from Arsenal players for a stoppage-time penalty as the Gunners dropped points for only the third time this season.

Arsenal were charged by the FA on Friday for failing to control their players.

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"I try to do my best for this football club, to defend it, to promote it, to play with the passion I believe the game has to be played with," Arteta said.

"Every game is special and every manager behaves very differently regarding the circumstances. And you can't take the context out of a situation. That is not fair. That's me! Here and on the pitch, for the good and the bad.

"I will always try to be better ... If I have to change something, believe me, I will look in the mirror at myself and I will change it very quickly."

In Sunday's early FA Cup action, Premier League Leeds United fought back to avoid a shock exit against Championship side Cardiff City in a 2-2 draw at the Cardiff City Stadium.

Mark Hudson's side sit 20th in the second tier but raced into a 2-0 lead after goals from Jaden Philogene and Sheyi Ojo in the 24th and 31st minutes.

Leeds were booed off the pitch by the visiting fans at half-time but hit back though substitute Rodrigo after 65 minutes.

Cardiff's Joe Bagan was sent off for deliberate hand ball in the 81st minute but looked to have sent his side into the fourth round when Rodrigo's resultant penalty was saved by keeper Jak Alnwick.

But 18-year-old substitute Sonny Perkins came to the rescue of Jesse Marsch's side when he scored from close range in the third minute of added time.

Elsewhere, Championship side Stoke eased through to the fourth round with a 3-0 win over League Two strugglers Hartlepool thanks to own goals by Euan Murray and Rollin Menayese either side of a Jacob Brown strike.

Derby County beat fellow League One side Barnsley after goals from James Collins, Tom Barkhuizen and Jason Knight and Blackburn ran out as winners against Norwich City at Carrow Road thanks to a 31st-minute Jack Vale strike.

Walsall beat Stockport County 2-1 away and Bristol City drew 1-1 at home with Swansea.

Updated: January 08, 2023, 6:08 PM