FA Cup replay 'vital' to Arsenal says Robin van Persie
Robin van Persie feels it is "vital" Arsenal come through their FA Cup replay against Leeds at Elland Road tomorrow night - whatever side manager Arsene Wenger sends out at Elland Road.
The Gunners boss is again expected to rotate his starting XI for what will be their sixth fixture of a congested January after needing a last-minute penalty from captain Cesc Fabregas to deny the npower Championship side a famous win at Emirates Stadium.
Nicklas Bendtner and Marouane Chamakh were both unused substitutes for the 3-0 win at West Ham on Saturday, which kept up Arsenal's Barclays Premier League title challenge.
Czech winger Tomas Rosicky is expected to be involved tomorrow having recovered from a virus, while there could also be a first start for midfielder Aaron Ramsey after his return to action from a broken leg.
Van Persie did not feature in either the Leeds game or the Carling Cup semi-final first leg defeat at Ipswich.
However, the Holland forward, 27, feels Arsenal have the strength in depth to produce the required performance at Elland Road which would secure a home fourth-round tie against Huddersfield.
"Those two cup games were not good enough, but against West Ham, everyone played really well and were fighting for each other," van Persie said.
"This game is vital because we have a big chance.
"If we win against Leeds, then after that it will be a game against a lower league side again.
"I have looked at the draw, there are a lot of other Premier League teams playing each other, so lots of teams will go out, which means we have big chances to go further.
"We have the squad to go further because 90% of the squad are fit now and we can rotate a bit when needed.
"If you ask me, we will go for that [FA Cup] game as well."
Wenger admits he has to be "cautious" with van Persie, guarding against more injury problems.
Even if, as expected, van Persie finds himself on the bench at Elland Road or even rested completely, the Dutch striker will understand.
"We had a little conversation last week over the game against Ipswich because I wanted to play and felt good," van Persie added to Arsenal TV Online.
"The manager said: 'I know you want to play Robin, but you have to be patient because we have so many games coming up this month, I want you to be at your best for February, March and April'.
"I trust him. He has been in the game so long, and looks at everything, so if he says so, then it is right."
Wojciech Szczesny will again be in goal as Lukasz Fabianski remains sidelined with a shoulder problem, while full-back Bacary Sagna is available after completing a three-man ban.
Wenger accepts he maybe did not get the balance of his side right against Leeds at Emirates Stadium, but is in no doubt the travelling squad will be fully focused on the job in hand tomorrow.
"I don't think the quality of the players played a part in the first game, it was more the structure of the team was a bit unbalanced and looking forward too much, therefore we could not dominate the midfield as we are used to," said Wenger, whose search for cover in central defence continues.
"I am confident we can do it [at Leeds].
"We are strong away from home and know we got out of jail, so we will focus to do well."
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