Monday, 29 October 2012

Arsenal's Capital One Cup Game Against Reading Previewed

Arsenal got back to winning ways on Saturday by just about managing to beat QPR 1-0 at home. It was hardly a vintage performance but the result was the most important statistic of the day for the team. Arsenal dominated the game in every single other statistic too, but were more than a little nervous as they tried to see the game out.

Their next Premier League outing is a trip to Manchester United next Sunday, but meanwhile they play again tonight in the Capital One Cup. Reading are the visitors to the Emirates stadium and like QPR they're struggling at the wrong end of the Premier League. On the face of it Arsenal should be firm favourites to advance to the last eight of the competition.

Of course Arsenal don't exactly play their strongest team in this competition. Usually the substitutes from the previous league game are the first names on the team sheet for Capital One Cup games. The bench contained a few players who will be anxious to get the chance to show what they can do.

In goal Damian Martinez should get a rare start with Arsenal already relying on their third choice to fulfill the first team duties. Carl Jenkinson and Laurent Koscielny should both play in defence with Johan Djourou and Ignasi Miquel possibly playing there too. It's hard to know who will play at left back, but Miquel has done so before and will probably do so again.

In midfield I would imagine Francis Coquelin and Emmanuel Frimpong should get a look in, but it's hard to know who will play with them. I don't know if Serge Gnarby is suited to that role and whether he will play there at such a young age either. He has been in the first team squad a few times recently and he may well get the chance to impress tonight.

The attacking trio could well be made up of Theo Walcott, Andrey Arshavin and Marouane Chamakh unless Arsene Wenger decides he would like to save any of them for Sunday. Chamakh hasn't seen much action in a long time, but surely this is a chance for him to show what he can if he is chosen. I'm not so sure if both Walcott and Arshavin will play with Gervinho's injury ruling him out for Sunday.

Thomas Eisfeld and Nico Yennaris are other possibilities to play at some time and even Sebastien Squillaci could get a look in. The team will have a fair deal of experience in it, but the youngsters will get a chance to shine too.

I would imagine Reading will play a strong team with the opportunity of picking up a win at Arsenal an attractive one for them. They may be in the relegation zone of the Premier League, but they have enough good players to expect to have a real chance of progressing.

Arsenal will have to be at their very best with the team they have to get something from the game. They could have problems in midfield with their best players rested and players such as Abou Diaby and Tomas Rosicky still injured. I'm hoping to see good performances from Coquelin and Frimpong too as long as he is up to playing.

When Chamakh first joined Arsenal he filled in admirably for the injured Robin van Persie, but he has hardly got a look in since then. In almost two years he has seen very little action and when he has played he had been far from impressive. His future lies elsewhere I'm sure, but I would imagine he will see out his lucrative contract at Arsenal first.

Arsenal have only one player to play the central strikers role and surely Chamakh should see himself as the automatic back up for Olivier Giroud. It's hard to fathom what has gone wrong for him at the club, but maybe he was never the type of player they should have signed. A player may be a bargain if he is signed for free, but not of he then goes on to do virtually nothing at the club.

There's an awful lot of deadwood at Arsenal at the moment and the club have found it very hard to dispose of these players. Besides Chamakh both Arshavin and Squillaci could be on show tonight and the clubs desire to dispose of them has been no secret either. Whatever happened to players buckling down and doing everything to prove judgements on them to be wrong.

I always predict an Arsenal win and tonight is no different. I may not be overly confident of that win tonight, but I'm plumping for a 3-2 victory.

I would love to see Arshavin and Chamakh come out and show what they can do and maybe even make the boss think twice about their futures at the club. It's probably a forlorn wish but I do believe they have the ability and it's the conviction which is missing.

There should be another full house tonight as the club continues it's policy of offering tickets for this competition at a very good price. It's a competition which Arsenal have won a few times in the past with the victories over Liverpool and Sheffield Wednesday being the ones I remember. Unfortunately I also remember defeats in the final to Luton and more recently Birmingham and they were bad days.

Whatever happens tonight it's the game on Sunday which is really important. Once any players who might play on Sunday come through in one piece I will be relatively happy, but of course a win would be great. November is going to be a tough month for Arsenal and they will need all of their best players fully fit and ready to go.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

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