Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Preview Of Arsenal's Carling Cup Trip To Newcastle Tonight.

It's the Carling Cup tonight with Arsenal making the trip north to face Newcastle United in a game that's live on TV. With the winners going through to the quarter finals there is the distinct feeling of a possible trip to Wembley for the winners of tonight's games. Five teams are through to those quarter finals after last night's games and for clubs like Birmingham, Wigan, West Brom and Ipswich the chances of playing in a cup semi final or final don't come around too often.
Of course the other team to win through last night were "Manure" and they have won the trophy for the last two years in a row. I'm sure they would be delighted to make it a hat trick of victories in this competition, no matter how insignificant it might seem at times. It would appear that Arsenal are a little more interested in winning it too as they seem to be treating it a little more seriously this season.
With that in mind I'm sure we'll see a fairly strong team tonight although the vast majority of the players who started in the victory over Man City will not start. It will also be interesting to see what team Newcastle go with after their 4-3 win at Stamford Bridge over Chelsea in the last round with a very much weakened team. I'm not going to attempt to forecast who will play for Newcastle but I'll give my opinion on Arsenal's possible team.
The obvious choice in goal is Wojciech Szczesny but I'm not sure exactly who the reserve keeper will be. In defence I expect to see Emmanuel Eboue, Kirean Gibbs and Laurent Koscielny all play as they were on the bench on Sunday. The big decision for the boss is who will accompany Koscielny at the centre of our defence and it's probably a straight choice between Johann Djourou and Sebastien Squillaci.
From what I saw on Sunday Djourou needs a lot more game time to get some form after missing a year through injury but Squillaci would probably be the safer bet. Squillaci will probably be the favourite to play as he has already captained the team and he will be seen as the leader of the defence on the pitch. I have a funny feeling that the boss will opt for Djourou though as he is only too aware that he needs some game time and this is an ideal opportunity for him to do just that.
In midfield we should see Tomas Rosicky play as he has been excellent when he has played this season and if Squillaci doesn't play he will probably get the captain's armband. Alongside him in the middle of the park I expect to see Abu Diaby play if he is fit but if not Denilson should get the nod as well as Henri Lansbury. If Diaby does play it will be a straight decision between Denilson and Lansbury for the other player and I expect that Denilson will win out as like Djourou, he needs some game time after recovering from injury. He looked good against City on Sunday and another game under his belt would do him no harm at all.
I would be more than surprised if Nicklas Bendtner didn't lead the line with Theo Walcott on the right and Carlos Vela on the left. All three of them need some game time as they have either been injured or out of favour recently and this is a good opportunity for them to show exactly what they can do. Walcott was in great form before getting injured on international duty and after a couple of brief substitute appearances he will hopefully be up to making a full return.
Bendtner has not started a game for Arsenal since last season as his choice to play on with his injury at the World Cup meant that he needed a lot longer than expected to recover. When he came on against City on Sunday he took his goal very well and I'm sure that will have been a boost to his confidence, if he needed such a thing.
Vela has been in trouble with his country after some late night partying on international duty and he got a six month ban from them as a result. Since then he hasn't really got a look in at Arsenal, although he did start in the last round of this competition in Arsenal's away victory over The Spuds. To be honest he wasn't great in that game and we only pushed home our advantage when he was replaced by Marouane Chamakh. He even played in a reserve game last week when the star of the show was Jay Emmanuel Thomas, who scored a hat trick.
It will also be interesting to see who is on the bench as we had some big guns waiting to come on in that victory over The Spuds. Both Chamakh and Andrei Arshavin came on in that game and made a real difference to the eventual result. I expect to see them on the bench again tonight and possibly Samir Nasri too but I would be surprised if Cesc Fabregas was on the bench at all.
JET should be on the bench too and I am eagerly anticipating seeing him get more than the few first team minutes he has managed so far this season. With eight goals in five reserve games so far this season he can't do much more to get the attention of the manager. There are rumours that he's on his way to QPR on loan but nothing has been confirmed yet.
Every player in that Arsenal team knows how to play football the Arsenal way and I expect the team that is picked to do just that tonight. From what I have seen of Newcastle so far this season they have played pretty well but struggled to get the results that their efforts have deserved at times. Their home form has been poor and Arsenal can certainly cause them a lot of problems by playing their usual game with speed and poise.
There will be quite a few players in the Arsenal team who will feel they have a point to prove tonight and hopefully they can do just that. I would be perfectly happy if the boss has some serious problems with team selection on Saturday against West Ham after some fine performances by the likes of Gibbs, Walcott or Rosicky tonight who might all feel they have a chance of staking a claim for a regular first team place.
Of course Bendtner will already believe that he is the man to lead our attack as we all know exactly how good he thinks he is. With Chamakh making such an impression during his and Robin Van Persie's injuries the young Dane knows that his chances will be limited unless he forces his way into the team in games like tonight's. Chamakh has a much better all round game in my opinion and RVP is going to have his work cut out getting into the team if and when he makes a full recovery.
I can see a few goals going in tonight but as always I'm predicting an Arsenal. I'm going for 3-1 with Bendtner and Walcott both getting on the score sheet. I'll be very interested in the performances of Szczesny and Gibbs as they are two very talented young players who will feel there is a real prospect of forcing their way into the first team very soon. I'm off to the supporters club in The Strand in Bray tonight to watch the second half of the match after I've played football myself and having not been able to make it there for Sunday's game I'm looking forward to seeing a few familiar faces and cheering on an Arsenal win.
See You Tomorrow

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