SUTTON, England (Reuters) - Minor league Sutton United are dreaming of a draw against a second-string Arsenal when the Premier League giants come visiting for Monday’s FA Cup fifth-round clash.
“I think if you see (Mesut) Ozil and (Alexis) Sanchez on the team sheet, our chance doesn’t come beyond nought,” manager Paul Doswell told reporters at the club’s Gander Green Lane ground on Thursday.
“But if they put another team out then it does get up to the ones and two percents.”
Arsenal were thrashed 5-1 at Bayern Munich in a last-16 first-leg Champions League match on Wednesday and the shift from the Allianz Arena to playing in front of 5,000 fans in the south-west London suburbs will come as a shock.
Sutton, who beat second-tier Leeds United in the previous round, are hoping Arsene Wenger gives his stars a rest.
“There’s two ways of looking at it. You either get the likes of Ozil and Sanchez and Giroud -- and you can just keep naming them -- in which case we would lose the game comfortably but the lads would get the experience of having played a Premier League giant,” said Doswell.
“Or you go the other way and you play a team of under-23s ... mixed in with one or two of their squad players, and that gives us that one percent chance that we’d be after.”
“The best result for the players would be a 0-0 -- for you lot probably a 3-3 or 2-2,” he added. “If we were to get a draw and we could get back to the Emirates it would be one of the biggest results in the cup’s history.”
Sutton’s annual turnover of 800,000 pounds would not come close to paying the salary of a player like Sanchez, the Premier League’s top scorer.
The part-timers have a wage bill of 10,000 pounds a week with the top player on 600 pounds. Most have other jobs or look after the children while partners work. Arsenal’s annual turnover is 330 million pounds.
Four of the Sutton squad are ex-Arsenal, however, including defender Craig Eastmond who played alongside Theo Walcott, Cesc Fabregas and Denilson in a 2010 FA Cup tie against Stoke City.
“I think half of my team support Arsenal,” said Doswell. “The chance for them to go to the Emirates and just have a great day out would probably be their preferred result.”
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Neville Dalton