So, Carling Cup, a trophy that is hard to take seriously after so many years of refusing to do so, but seriously we shall take it.
We are, by all reports, playing a relatively experienced team tonight, although Wenger is insisting that the average age of the team will still be quite young. With Van Persie, Theo, and Nik all returning to fitness and form, their involvement is not as noteworthy as it would be had they been regular first teamers this year although the press will make a massive deal of it whatever the result.
The result, of course, is no foregone conclusion. At home in the Carling Cup we have a relatively good record, but this season we’ve had more than a bit of a wobble.
This is the first chance to put that right before another two more than winnable ties against Fulham and Partizan.
It has been suggested, by fans, and Wenger alike, that we don’t have the intensity at home as we do away and this is simply not good enough. In fact, we should have more, People should be afraid of coming to the Emirates but at the minute we exude all the fear factor of a fluffy bunny when we take to the pitch at the Grove. It’s time to take back the Emirates and make it the fortress we all know it should be. That means everyone giving 100% – including the crowd (although they tend to be more vocal at midweek matches, a demonstration of more ‘hardcore’ gooners making the trip despite the lateness of the evening? It’s a thought worth exploring at a later date)
For the most part, WBA aside, our first half performances have been as we would expect them, but our tendency to drop off after the break must be addressed. I’m not sure what is being said in the dressing room at half-time, but I very much doubt it’s ‘good job lads, now take it easy’ even if this is how we are appearing to re-emerge.
With another load of changes predicted to be made tonight it would be easy to say that we will see an unsettled side, but the players we are bringing in should show a bit more hunger than their counterparts in the senior side.
Van Persie, Chesney, Eboue and Gibbs have more of a sense of urgency than some of the others, and with Jack in the midfield we should have enough in the attitude department to see us through this match.
After all, it is the attitude department which has been letting us down recently, not the ability of the players, or even the team selection.
So how shall we line up tonight?
In goal we will see Chesney look to impress in front of the Emirates crowd, and at the back we have no real other options but to play Kos and Djourou flanked by Gibbs and Eboue.
In the midfield we are likely to see Denilson in the holding role, and if we can get him to sit deep enough we shouldn’t have to worry about players running past him. In there with him should be Jack and Rosicky.
I’ve no doubt that we will see Van Persie and Theo up front in some formation, but I can’t decide if Wenger will give the nod to Vela or Bendtner to start. Whichever one he chooses they both have a lot to play for and it could be argued that they will be playing for their Arsenal futures.
I see this being an open and entertaining match and have a feeling that if we get it right we could see Wigan get a spanking. While it is ‘only’ the Carling Cup, what we must not do is lose. Another home defeat, albeit with different personnel, will only heap even more pressure on the team ahead of Fulham’s visit at the weekend.
It’s not being shown on the TV in the UK (although it will be shown in its entirety on Arsenal TV after the final whistle) so I will be stream hunting with a lot of you.
Oh the joy.
I’m looking forward to this one, the Carling Cup has given us some great matches, and superb performances in the recent past.
Let’s hope this is another one.
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