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FA Cup Draw Reflection - How Important Are Cup Competitions?

Guest blogger Michael Bowers offers his thoughts on this week's FA Cup draw and the task ahead for Big Sam's men.

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After - in my opinion - undeservedly losing to Arsenal in the Premier League at the weekend, it was disappointing to be drawn against them at the Emirates in the third round of the FA cup. It's not beyond the realms of possibility that we could go there and win though. Stranger things have happened. Personally, the only way I can realistically see us beating Arsenal in that fixture is by somehow forcing a replay at the Stadium of Light - our home form in the run to the League Cup final last year was crucial.

Having said that I'd rather we take three points off them in our next league encounter. For me, cup competitions this season have to take a back seat.

As much as I want to do well in the FA Cup I think we have to put our goals in the Premier League before it. Avoiding injuries to key players, to me, is crucial and I'd probably look to making mass changes for the game at the Emirates in a few weeks.

The only team in the draw I wanted to avoid were Newcastle. I was still disappointed we got one of the hardest teams we could have been drawn against but if we were to have a run in the competition, chances are we would have to play them at some point.

Considering our league position we don't have the luxury of going for it in the FA Cup, especially when that competition takes place throughout the business end of the season when league form matters most.

Don't get me wrong, I'd be delighted if we won at the Emirates Stadium (a ground we've never won at, so it's over-due) but the league at this stage is more important and I think Big Sam will have that in his mind when approaching the tie.

That said, I'm probably thinking too far ahead. We have Watford, Chelsea, Man City, Liverpool and Aston Villa to play before then. The next few weeks are stacked with difficult, challenging fixtures that will likely shape the rest of our season.

IF (and it's a big if) we manage to beat Watford and Aston Villa and nick a draw or two in the other three games, then I'd be happy with that. Our main aim by the time we play Arsenal next month should be to be out of the bottom three or at least close to the teams above us.

In the meantime, three points on Saturday for the lads please along with Bournemouth, Norwich, Swansea, Aston Villa, Chelsea and (especially) Newcastle losing. Is it too much to ask for?!