Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Arsenal's Carling Cup Game With Bolton Wanderers Previewed.

Arsenal are straight back into action tonight only two days after beating Stoke City 3-1 in the Premier League. Normally they wouldn't have two games so close to each other, but Arsene Wenger will probably have a completely different team to the one that started on Sunday. That team selection should see quite a few of the fringe players get another chance to impress in front of the home fans.

The Carling Cup is a competition Arsenal have done quite well in over the last few years considering that they have usually played a weakened team. Some of the performances put in by a mixture of youth and reserve team players over the years have been very good. It's not always easy for those players to make an impact in the first team, but it's great to get a chance to see them play occasionally.

The biggest problem for Arsenal tonight could be who to play in defence, as they have so many defensive injuries at the moment. The only fit full back with first team experience is Andre Santos, but the chances are he won't be playing as he played on Sunday. Arsenal had no defenders on the bench on Sunday, and it could be a real problem for tonight.

Obviously Lukasz Fabianski will play in goal, and I have a feeling that Johan Djourou will play too even though he was in Sunday's team. If both Sebastien Squillaci and Ignasi Miquel are fit they too are bound to play, but that's by no means certain. There is also a possibility that Thomas Vermaelen will play at some stage, as he is rumoured to be in the squad.

In midfield it's a straight call between Emmanuel Frimpong and Francis Coquelin for the defensive role. There is a possibility that Coquelin will play in defence which would mean Frimpong would be the one to play in midfield. Ahead of whichever one of those two plays both Tomas Rosicky and Yossi Benayoun are likely to be chosen, and they have plenty of class and experience between them.

Arsene Wenger has already said Park Ju Young will start in attack, and I would imagine that both Andrey Arshavin and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will play on either side of him. Arshavin has been off form when he has started games this season, but he has done well when he has come on from the bench. I'm hoping he can find some of the form he shows for Russia and cause Bolton some real problems.

Chamberlain has shown real promise in the few games he has played this season, and I'm hoping to see more of the same from him tonight. He has only started two games for Arsenal's first team so far this season, but he has scored in both games. He has also been a real star for the England under 21 team in that time, and the future looks really bright for him.

With so many players from Sunday not playing the Arsenal bench could have a very youthful look to it. I hope to see Ryo Miyaichi make an appearance at some time tonight too, but like Chamberlain he is still very young and full of lots of promise too.

Hopefully there will be a good turnout to see all the fringe players do their stuff, and those who are there will be treated to some good attacking football from Arsenal.

Bolton have had a bad start to their season and they're currently in the relegation zone in the Premier League after seven defeats in their first nine games. They have leaked an awful lot of goals in those games too, but they will see the possibility of a quarter final slot in the Carling Cup as a chance to turn things around. Since their FA Cup semi final defeat to Stoke City last season they have been in virtual free fall, and it's a factor Arsenal should take into account tonight.

I think Arsenal can open up the Bolton defence by going at them and putting them under pressure, as they must be short of confidence at the moment. I know Arsenal's defending has been far from ideal at times this season, but Bolton's has been even worse. I'm predicting a 3-1 win for Arsenal, and it would be nice to see both Park and Chamberlain get themselves on the score sheet too.

I'm not sure if I'll be able to see the game live, as it's never easy to get a stream for Carling Cup games. I'll be trawling through twitter later to see if anybody has a good stream, but I've a feeling I'll be following the game between twitter and the BBC site. It's never an easy way to follow a game, but it's the lot of a fan at times.

That's it for today.

Here's the highlights from yesterday's game.

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