LONDON (Sporting Alert) — Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has handed new recruit Gabriel Paulista his debut for the club in today’s FA Cup 5th round tie against Middlesbrough at Emirates Stadium.
Paulista will play in the backline alongside Laurent Koscielny, with Calum Chambers and Kieran Gibbs both coming into the starting lineup as well.
Germany World Cup winning defender Per Mertesacker is dropped to the bench, but goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny returns in place of David Ospina to try prove to the manager that he is ready to win back his place ahead of the Champions League fixture.
Forward Alexis Sanchez has recovered from a knee and hamstring injury to start in the attack with Danny Welbeck and Olivier Giroud.
The strong starting XI also includes Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla and Mathieu Flamini, as the holders look to avoid an upset against the Sky Bet Championship outfit.
Tomas Rosicky, Theo Walcott, Nacho Monreal and Francis Coquelin are all on the bench for the 11-times FA Cup winners.
Middlesbrough, in the meantime, welcomes back the return of left-back George Friend, who is available again after illness.
Middlesbrough comes into this tie without fear after beating English Premier League champion Manchester City at the Etihad in the fourth round.
The visitors’ lineup sees Spanish striker Kike leading the hunt for goals, with on-loan Tottenham defender Ryan Fredericks also named in the first team.
Cup-tied midfielder Adam Forshaw is unavailable, while defenders Daniel Alaya and Tomas Kalas are injured and missed out too.
Arsenal: Szczesny, Chambers, Gabriel, Koscielny, Gibbs, Flamini, Cazorla, Welbeck, Ozil, Alexis, Giroud. Subs: Martinez, Mertesacker, Monreal, Rosicky, Walcott, Coquelin, Akpom
Middlesbrough: Mejias; Fredericks, Omeruo, Gibson, Friend; Clayton, Leadbitter, Tomlin, Adomah; Bamford, Kike. Subs: Ripley, Nsue, Husband, Vossen, Reach, Whitehead, Woodgate.