By Will Butcher
Arsenal are set to face their second non-league opposition within the space of a month on Saturday as they play host to Lincoln City in the FA Cup on Saturday.
Although a huge 88 places separate the two sides in the football league, the Gunners will be desperate to put their run of form behind them and avoid an FA Cup giant killing.
With a place in the last four of the competition up for grabs at the Emirates, here are three of Lincoln’s star players to watch out for ahead of Saturday’s clash.
Captain fantastic. The 26-year-old defender has been instrumental at the back for Lincoln this season, as they continue to march on at the top of the National League. With an eye catching 16 clean sheets in his 39 league and cup appearances this season, the skipper has also chipped in with a marvellous seven goals from centre-back as well as providing the assist for fellow defender Sean Raggett to head home late on against Premier League opposition Burnley. His presence, both at the back and from set pieces, will be crucial against the Gunners, and he will be in buoyant mood after winning the National League’s Player of the Month award.
Top scorer. The lofty centre-forward has scored an impressive 13 goals this season, but is known to be just as effective in contributing to his side’s attacking play in the final third. Having a hand in 26 goals during his 38 league and cup appearances, it is obvious that Rhead will once again be a handful come Saturday. The Imps’ number nine has used his aerial prowess to good effect in the National League this season with 13 assists, and could find plenty of joy against Arsenal’s defence at the Emirates, who are known more for their technical ability and passing at the back.
Screening the back four, Woodyard has been one of Lincoln’s most consistent performers throughout the season and will be relied upon to do an enormous amount of running on the gigantic Emirates Stadium pitch come Saturday. The four-time England C international has already made a huge 40 league and cup appearances this season, helping his side pick up 27 victories along the way. With an Arsenal keen on playing with a number 10, it will be Woodyard’s job to keep that player under control during Saturday’s evening clash under the lights in north London.
In other Arsenal news, Mesut Ozil has made this decision over a new contract.