Cup is not distraction for Leeds United, insists O'Brien

VICTORY over Arsenal tomorrow night would not deflect Leeds United from pursuing their main aim of promotion.

That is the confident assertion of central defender Andy O'Brien, who pointed to Saturday's 4-0 Championship win over Scunthorpe United as evidence.

Harrogate-born O'Brien signed a two-and-a-half year deal from Bolton Wanderers ahead of the FA Cup third round 1-1 draw at The Emirates and does not accept that Leeds have missed their best chance of knocking out the Gunners, who were rescued by a late penalty.

Leeds could easily have been distracted by the impending replay but, following a fully focussed win over The Iron which put them two points behind second-placed Swansea City, Bradford City product O'Brien said: "Scunthorpe was a very big game for us but we've ticked that box and now we have to go on to the next one.

"I don't think we have missed our chance. To a certain extent, the Cup games take care of themselves. We were the underdogs but now we are playing at home with a massive support behind us."

The winners tomorrow will be at home to Huddersfield Town in the fourth round, and O'Brien, who went out at the fourth round stage last season as Spurs beat Bolton, continued: "I don't think an FA Cup run is a hindrance. As a professional footballer, you want to stay in as many competitions as possible for as long as possible and if we've got a lot of games it means we are doing something right.

"We have got a group of lads who are honest and hard-working and we have put ourselves into a very strong position in the league now and we need to keep it going to the finish."

Manager Simon Grayson was delighted by his side's display on Saturday, stating: "We have given ourselves an opportunity to focus on the Arsenal game after a good clinical performance. The players could have taken their eye off the ball on Saturday and thought about Arsenal but they didn't and fair play to them.

"It will be the same message on Wednesday. We are underdogs but we have earned the right to bring them back here with a fantastic performance and our fans have deserved that because they have had a lot of bad times over the last few years.

"We have got to be underdogs because Arsenal have some fantastic players. We will look to try and get through and we will go out with the attitude that we can win it and give them a tough night, but we have to be aware of what Arsenal can do because they are a fantastic team."

Thomas Vermaelen's comeback has been put on hold again. The Arsenal defender will undergo minor surgery on an Achilles injury today.