The beauty of having non-league players in the FA Cup quarter-finals is that the quotes in the press tend to be far more interesting.
So many top-flight players are so well-drilled by Premier League clubs’ PR teams that we seldom see anything other than the humdrum “they’re a good side so we’ll have to be at our best to come out with the win.”
It’s a shame really to see players’ personalities diluted due to clubs’ fears of anything of note being written about by reporters.
But there appears to be no such problem at Lincoln City, where the players seem to have free rein and no-nonsense defender Bradley Wood took full advantage of that freedom with his words of warning for Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez ahead of today’s FA Cup quarter-final at the Emirates.
Having got past Burnley, Brighton, Ipswich, Oldham and Altrincham already in the tournament, the Imps’ most daunting task to date comes this evening but Wood is not intimidated by the prospect of marking Sanchez, who is likely the most talented player he’s ever come up against.
“I’m a human being and he’s a human being. That’s all it is. We’re two guys who could be going against each other over 90 or 120 minutes.” Wood told the Daily Mail.
“There are many ways to skin a cat and by hook or crook that’s what I’ll try to do to him. If he tries to run me in the channels then I’m smashing him.
“That’s not to say that I’m going to boot him 24/7 but if I manage to keep him quiet then I’ll have done a good job. It’ll be the same on the left side with Sam [Habergham and in the centre with Luke [Waterfall] and Sean [Raggett].”
Lincoln are 22/1 to beat the Gunners this weekend and are 150/1 to go the whole way in the competition but Arsene Wenger’s side are not exactly brimming with confidence, having just been on the wrong end of a 10-2 aggregate defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League.
And Wood believes that the tension that currently exists at the Emirates might make this the perfect time to face Arsenal and keep the fairytale alive.
“We’re coming up against world class players who are better than us, we know that, but we’ve got a big, big heart and we’re not going to be tourists on a stadium tour,” he continued.
“Arsenal are going through a sticky patch, they’ve got the fans on their backs. After 20 or 30 minutes, if it’s still 0-0 or we’re 1-0 up, I’m sure those 9,000 Lincoln fans will turn into 20,000 and the longer the game goes on it’ll get worse for them. We’ve got our game plan and we know if we implement that we’ll be ok.”