Burnley get another taste of the big time at Arsenal tomorrow, with boss Sean Dyche hoping to be back at the Emirates Stadium in the Premier League next season.
The Clarets take on the FA Cup holders on their own patch, having lost 3-0 there in the league last term.
But Burnley go to north London in fine form, up to third in the Championship, with 22 goals in their last eight games, and eyeing a return ticket to the top flight.
Dyche is looking forward to the test against Arsene Wenger’s side: “There’s a bit of freedom that goes with it. Statistically they don’t have many defeats at home, they are the holders and the expectation is totally on them.
“But we are a good side as well, progressing in our league, and we will go down with a firm mentality and take the game on.
“There will be a different feel from last season, we were a team searching for wins in the Premier League then.
“It is a different objective this time, in the cup, but we want to be back at the top level again – that’s the outcome we’re looking for this season.
“They have very good players, who have played at the top level for most, if not all of their careers.
“But there is always that edge to cup games – they will know that, as will we. We know we will have to play well, and hope they have a quiet day, whether through what we do, or just how football works.”
Burnley made four changes in the last round at Middlesbrough, and, bearing in mind the size of the task, Dyche will select his side accordingly: “We’ll see who’s fit and well, but we look pretty clear. Dean Marney’s calf tightened up again, but Andre (Gray) isn’t a concern, he came off with cramp on Monday.
“We’ll take it from there and pick the side we feel is appropriate, as was evident at Middlesbrough.”
Dyche is looking forward to another meeting of minds with Wenger, who was complimentary about what Burnley achieved last season, despite relegation from the Premier League.
Wenger said after a 1-0 win at Turf Moor in April: “It would be a shame for Burnley to go down.
‘When you see their performance, I am surprised by their plight near the bottom. They have a great solidarity and organisation in their side.”
And Dyche said: “Arsene has had people knock him over time, but it is fantastic what he has done there, the business model, the productivity and development of his players, and he has a good crop of English and British talent now as well.
“I have a lot of respect for him and Steve Bould, who I know distantly, having shared a coffee and a chat at times when I was youth coach at Watford.
“Arsene understood the challenge for a club like us in the Premier League and I had some good time with him last season, he was very respectful of us, and vice versa.
“He has enjoyed an incredible journey at Arsenal. The average time in charge in the Championship is nine months or so, so to do what he has done there, on and off the pitch, in the Premier League, is amazing.
“You have to win first, but he has earned the right to build the club, and what he and Sir Alex (Ferguson) achieved makes them among the best in the world in modern sport.”
After tomorrow’s tie, there will be around 54 hours remaining to conclude any permanent transfer business, and Dyche is still busy trying to enhance his squad: “It’s the usual thing, people ask ‘why didn’t you do your business at the start of the window?’ and when you try to, you are questioned as well.
“The reality of the business is it takes all parties to agree, and we haven’t got a bottom less pit – we have a reasonable amount of money available, but not a king’s ransom.
“If we can affect anything, we will.”
Asked about which markets he is looking at, he added: “We have to be open-minded, if we can get people to affect the here and now, and support the group going forward, we will, or if they are younger players looking at the longer term, but it is still a numbers game.
“We like the group and how it is working, but we have to keep going hard, and we are always looking for players, not always to replace, but to keep that demand. The higher quality the group, the higher the demand.”