Bring on Sanchez and all the stars!

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Chris Dunlavy

MOST cen­tre-halves would be do­ing cart­wheels at the sight of an Ar­se­nal teamsheet shorn of Chilean goal-ma­chine Alexis Sanchez.

But when the Gun­ners name their start­ing XI at 3.15 this af­ter­noon, Mid­dles­brough de­fender Ben Gibson is des­per­ate for the £30m man to be in­cluded.

Af­ter putting a full­strength Manch­ester City to the sword at the Eti­had in the last round, a trip to the Emi­rates holds no fear for the highly-rated 21year-old. Nor does their galaxy of stars, even if the likes of Sanchez and Ozil earn more in a week than some Boro play­ers take home in a year.

“I re­mem­ber be­fore we played Man City, one of my mates said, ‘I bet you hope Ser­gio Aguero doesn’t play’,” re­calls Gibson, a Boro academy grad­u­ate who has been with the club since the age of 12.

“But that wasn’t how I felt at all. I wanted him out there. If you haven’t played in the Pre­mier League, like me, you want to prove to your­self that you can han­dle it.It’s like any­thing in life – if you don’t try, you’ll never know.

“You al­ways want to test your­self against the best and I gen­uinely hope Ar­se­nal put out their strong­est side.

“Say­ing that, it’s not like they’ll be weak. If Sanchez doesn’t play, he’ll be re­placed by an­other world class player so it’ll still be a huge test. But I gen­uinely be­lieve we’ll go there and give them a real good run for their money.”

And af­ter bat­tling to a 2-1 victory on Black­pool’s rut­ted pitch to go top of the Cham­pi­onship in mid­week, Gibson says the Emi­rates’ bowl­ing green will play into Boro’s hands.

“The sur­face will be im­mac­u­late, which suits us just as much as it does them,” he added. “We’re a pass­ing team.

“I can’t wait. It’s a per­fect pitch, per­fect sta­dium. Th­ese are the days you live for in foot­ball and they don’t come by very of­ten – es­pe­cially when you’ve been stuck in the Cham­pi­onship for so many years.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.