Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Arsenal's EFL Cup Game With Nottingham Forest Previewed

Arsenal stuttered at the start of the season, but they are slowly beginning to find some form. A couple of late goals put a nice 4-1 gloss on their win at Hiull on Saturday, but there's still a way to go before they are anywhere near their best. In a long season which could be anything from 50 to 60 games they've only just scratched the surface of the games they have to play.

They make the trip to Nottingham Forest tonight for a game in the least important of the four competitions they are in this season. The EFL Cup is little more than a distraction and an opportunity to give a run out to the fringe players in the first team squad. With that in mind I expect to see plenty of changes in the team to face Forest.

The only player who might return to the squad is Gabriel Paulista who has been injured since before the season began. The rest of the team should be made up of the players on the bench on Saturday and those who didn't make it to the bench. Arsenal should still be able to put out a fairly strong team though and one with every chance to progress to the next round of the competition.

The choice in goal is a straight one between David Ospina and Emilio Martinez with sense saying it should be Ospina who gets the nod. It looks like he's the first choice for our Champions League group games which might be the only reason he might sit this one out. Either way I think the goalkeeper's position is well covered.

In defence I imagine Rob Holding, Kieran Gibbs and maybe even Mathieu Debuchey will play and Gabriel too if he's fit. If Gabriel isn't quite ready to play I wouldn't be surprised to see Shkodran Mustafi play as the more games he gets the better. I've been impressed with him so far and it looks like we might finally have got the top quality central defender we need to play alongside Laurent Koscielny.

In midfield surely we have to see Granit Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny get a run out. Xhaka has had to bide his time since joining, but his time has to come and the sooner the better for me. As for Elneny he seems to have dropped even further down the line and it's difficult to understand why. Of course there are still plenty of games to go and both Xhaka and Elneny will get plenty of chances to prove themselves, but I find it hard to understand why Xhaka in particular isn't one of the first names on the team sheet for every game. 

There are still four places to fill in the team after those players and I fully expect Lucas Perez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to take two of them with the other two quite possibly going to Jeff Reine-Adelaide and Chuba Akpom. It's a reasonably strong team and one which should have a chance against a Championship team. For me it's about the performance from those players on the night and avoiding injuries.

Last season we went out of the equivalent competition one round later after winning away to Spurs at this stage. We lost away to Sheffield Wednesday on a night to forget when we were well beaten and lost both Chamberlain and Theo Walcott to injuries. If the cost of progress is a couple of injuries this season I would choose elimination from a competition which has never been good to us.

I still have nightmares about the loss to Luton Town in the final in 1988 and I imagine older fans than me have less than fond memories of the 1969 final loss to Swindon Town. There was the 2007 final loss to Chelsea too, the 1968 loss to Leeds and who can forget that awful day against Birmingham in 2011. There were better days too, but not nearly as many as the bad ones.

It will certainly be good to see the fringe players get a run out, but it's never easy to judge a player by how he performs in a second string team. It's easier to judge a player when he gets his chance in a strong line up, but I would be pretty sure those in line to play Chelsea on Saturday will sit this one out. Maybe it's just me, but I would certainly take a defeat against Forest as long as we can take all three points off Chelsea.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

No comments:

Post a Comment