Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Arsenal's Game With Sheffield Wednesday Previewed

Things are going pretty well for Arsenal at the moment with the win over Everton on Saturday keeping them second in the league. They're only behind City on goal difference after the Manchester derby bored us all to death on Sunday afternoon. There's still a long way to go in the Champions League group if qualification for the knock out stages is to be achieved, but the win against Bayern has given us real hope.

For the moment though it's a game in the less glamourous Capital One Cup with Arsenal making the trip to Sheffield to play Wednesday on Tuesday night. It's been quite a while since they played Wednesday that I can remember at least, but there was a time when the games were a permanent fixture in the top flight of English football. The most memorable encounters were probably the meetings in the FA Cup and League cup finals of 1993 with Arsenal coming out on top in both.

Arsene Wenger usually gives his fringe and reserve players a run out in this competition and this game should be no didferent, but his options are somewhat limited. The players who have played so many games in recent weeks are in need of a break with a tough week coming up after the game which includes trips to Swansea and Bayern as well as the North London derby. His problem is injuries have deprived him of many of the players who would have played and he has loaned out most of the others.

The only goalkeeper available besides Petr Cech is the untested Matt Macey and it would certainly be a gamble to play him. The defensive options are much easier for him and I would expect to see Mathieu Debuchey, Calum Chambers and Kieran Gibbs play from the start. Per Mertesacker has returned from the illness which saw him miss Saturday's game and I expect him to play from the start too.

In midfield Mathieu Flamini is bound to come in to play the defensive role which saw him score twice against Spurs in the last round and nearly do the same when he came on late on Saturday, but Mikel Arteta is again unavailable through injury. The only other player certain to start is Joel Campbell while I doubt if we'll see Theo Walcott in the team even if he was an unused sub against Everton. I think the most likely option on the right will be Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who still looks like he needs more game time to me.

After that it's a matter of which players will be chosen from the ones who played on Saturday and I suspect Olivier Giroud will be one of them considering how often he has been on the bench recently. He has done very well when he has come in from the bench and led the line well when he started against Everton on Saturday. I wouldn't be surprised to see him play tonight and then play alongside Walcott on Saturday with Walcott taking over the striking duties away to Bayern next week.

It's anyone's guess who the other two players to make up the team will be, but the chances are they will be first team regulars. The hopes of dipping into the younger players have diminished with so many of the more advanced ones out on loan, but it's not impossible to suggest he might play Alex Iwobi. He's already made his full debut for Nigeria and didn't look out of place in pre season games in the first team so he's probably the most likely to play if any of the youngsters get a run out. 

Wednesday are sitting in mid table in the Championship and they're not too far off the play off places at the moment. I have no doubt they would like to get one over on the team who are joint leaders in the Premier League and it would be a huge boost for them if they did. I'm no lover of this competition and the team could probably do without a game this midweek, but a win would certainly continue the current momentum.

A loss won't be the end of the world either and at least the game will give our back up defenders a chance to show what they can do. It's an opportunity for all of the players who aren't regulars to remind the boss of their abilities and let's hope they take it with both hands. Arsenal have a pretty solid first choice 11 at the moment and a few of the players on show tonight need to try their all to changes minds on their current situation. 

The one thing we really don't want is extra time followed by penalties and we can do without any more injuries too. Let's hope the fringe players decide to remind the boss of their abilities tonight and help the team through to the quarter finals. It's been a long time since Arsenal won the league cup and they have never won it under Wenger, but who knows where it could end up if they reach the last eight.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

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