Carling cup always gets me excited. We get to see the fringe players and the younger players in action. Thanks to ATVO we do get to see them in the reserve games and the U-18 action as well but the intensity is not the same.
This year we will have more of a mix in terms of youth and experience. Wenger has already given away more than half the team. We should get our first glimpse of Szczesny in goal. If scoring against him is anywhere as difficult as pronouncing his name, he will have a fantastic future. The dreaded S&S combination will command the center of defence. As I have written before, both Silvestre and Senderos make me very nervous. But the Carling cup is the best chance for them to get match fitness and in spite of their perceived weaknesses, they should hold fort against a presumably weakened West Brom side.
Gibbs will probably get a run out at left back. Le Boss did mention that Eastmond will be involved by he may not start. The right back spot may go to anyone of Eastmond, Gilbert or Bartley. Personally, I would be interested in seeing the boy who has been handed the reserve team captaincy get a chance.
If we continue with the same formation as the first team, the three in the middle would be interesting. Ramsey will certainly be one of them. I suspect Coquelin might also get a chance. He has been very impressive in the youth fixtures. The interesting part will be to see whether Rambo gets a holding role in the middle or a free and more creative role. If he gets a holding role we might see Merida get the creative responsibility. That would suit both of them. If, on the other hand, the young Welshman is given a Cesc like responsibility we might see someone like Randall coming into the holding position.
Vela will be the key man up front. This is an important season for him and the internationals almost always affect his first team chances in one way or the other. He needs to get his match fitness back. Wilshere will most likely start on the right side of the front three. If he can forget about all the hype around him and just enjoys himself, we will see some magical moments from him. That leaves the position on the left open. I would be interested in seeing Traore given a run there. However, Arsene might put him in the midfield trio in a role that would link defence and attack. In that case we might even see Sanchez Watt getting a run out on the left.
The team I would like to see would be
Bartley Senderos Silvestre Gibbs
Ramsey Merida Coquelin Traore
Wilshere Vela Traore Bendtner
Interestingly, in this team, most of our offensive play will come from left footed players. Is there any statistic on the most number of left footed players starting in any team? This one might easily come close to the top.
WBA deserve a mention. They have had a flying start to this championship campaign. Di Matteo has reportedly brought in more steel to their play. Will be interesting if they chose to play most of their first team or not. With a busy schedule ahead for them, we might see their fringe players start the game. In any case, I expect them to keep it tight and physical. That is the only way for them to compete. But they must back themselves against a young Arsenal squad.
We are slightly inexperienced in attack without Bendtner or Eduardo and this will make it a real test for Wilshere, Vela and Ramsey. Can we break down a tight defence? Can we avoid making silly mistakes that give away soft goals? The same questions that apply to the first team will apply tonight as well. ATVO has the game “as live” and I just can’t wait to see the answers.
Update: I have just discovered, thanks to YW, that Merida is away with Spain U-20. That explains why Arsene didn’t mention him. We might see Bendtner come in to the squad to add a bit more experience. Not sure how he will take it though. It must have been disappointing for him to sit out after scoring against Liege. But a goal would be good for his confidence.