Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Arsenal's Capital One Cup Game With Coventry City Previewed

After the excitement of Sundays draw away to Premier League champions Manchester City it's back to the humdrum of the Capital One Cup tonight for Arsenal. This competition has gone through so many name changes over the years that it's hard to keep track of them. It was called the Carling Cup last season though and it will probably always be known as the League Cup.

For quite a few years now Arsene Wenger has treated this competition as an opportunity to experiment with his team. There is usually a mix of fringe players and reserves and I can't see this game being any different. It's a chance for players who are currently out of the picture to make an impression on Wenger.

I would imagine the first place to look for tonight's team sheet would be the bench for last Sundays game. All or most of the seven players on the bench on Sunday should be in line to start tonight with a few other players brought in to give the team the right balance. I'm not so sure all of those players will be overly happy to see themselves in the team tonight though.

Theo Walcott has spoken about his desire to play in a strikers role rather than in a wide one. He has even gone as far as to state that his chances of signing a new contract will depend on him getting a chance in that role. I'm not so sure if Walcott sees the same player out on the pitch for Arsenal as the fans see when he plays.

There is no doubting his pace and his finishing can be very good at times too. However, his level of consistency just isn't good enough for him to think he can call the shots about his role in the team. Better players than him have had to adapt their role to suit the needs of the team before and his current options are like it or lump it.

I can't see any way Walcott will be an Arsenal player next season and Wenger must know he can't depend on a player who seems determined to run down his contract so he can leave for free next summer. It will be a blow for Arsenal to lose a player they have spent so much time and money on,but there is little they can do about it now. He has engineered the current situation and only he can decide what the future holds for him.

I wonder if Olivier Giroud will play as the central striker tonight in an attempt to break his goal scoring duck. It's far too early for it to be a problem as he has only started three games this season but it would be great for him to get off the mark. A home game against lower league opposition would surely be the ideal opportunity.

It will be the first time players such as Johan Djourou and probably Ignasi Miquel get a chance to show what they can do this season. Nico Yennaris could get a look in too with Andre Santos more than likely playing at left back. Francis Coquelin should play from the start too and I imagine Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be on show also.

I'm not so sure whether both Andrey Arshavin and Marouane Chamakh will be involved in the game though. Both of their futures would seem to be elsewhere, but deals were not tied up before the transfer window closed. I would be very surprised if they didn't find new clubs in the January transfer window, as long as deals can be agreed.

As usual there will be one or two unexpected players in the matchday squad, and Wenger hints at who they might be on the club website. It should be a great experience for those players to play alongside some first team players, and in front of 60,000 fans too.

Tonight's opponents Coventry have fallen from grace recently. Not so long ago they were mixing it with the big boys in the Premier League, but now they find themselves in the relegation zone of League One. They haven't won a league match so far this season in eight attempts and League Two beckons unless they turn their fortunes around.

With the pressure on their players in the league growing this game could be a welcome distraction for them. They might see it as a chance to show they can still play a bit and they will welcome the chance to cause an upset. It could be a tough task for a team in their situation though.

Even with a team of fringe players and reserves Arsenal will still have a lot of talent on display. The players will still play the same way that Arsenal always play and Coventry will have to work hard to get anything from the game. I'm predicting a 2-0 win for Arsenal and I hope Giroud plays and scores his first goal too.

That's for today.

See you tomorrow.

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