It’s Capital One Cup day people. That means we can all get totally over excited about a group of young players who will show off their potential, get us all excited, then disappear off to play for Bolton in three years time.
Just kidding everyone… that never happens.
Tonight is going to be quite interesting for a number of reason. The main one being, quite a lot of players who you’d expect to see playing won’t be due to the injuries we’ve faced over the last few weeks. It’s unlikely we’ll see Chamberlain. I’d be very surprised if we see contract rebel Theo Walcott start and obviously, we’ll most certainly not see Jack Wilshere slip in a game even though he’s trying to recover his fitness as quickly as possible.
That leaves us with a fairly weak looking team when you consider we’re playing a Premiership side. Sadly, I can’t see past Chamakh up front. There’s literally no one else I can think of really? He’s no world class talent, but it would be nice to see him show that he’s at least a mid-table striker., you know, considering we pay him £75k a week. I can’t for the life of me work out why teams like West Ham or some of the others that struggle didn’t put in a loan bid for him. I’d imagine Eisfeld and Gnabry will take the wide slots with Andrey sitting just behind the striker. It’s a shame that someone as talented as the Russian only seems to get a run out in League cup, but it’s difficult to pin the blame for this on anyone other than himself.
“I say that because [his attitude] has been questioned. I don’t tolerate that,”
“If that was the case I would not speak about it.“
Now, Andrey’s attitude might not be called into question, but I can tell you his work rate in training most certainly has been the topic of conversations, much in the same way it was for Alex Song in the summer. I don’t know why Wenger defends the Russian so staunchly. He’s spent the whole year trying to push him out the back door. Everyone knows that including Andrey, so it’s not like he’s doing him any favours confidence wise.
Gnabry will be the one to watch this evening. When he came on against Schalke, he pulled off a really slick piece of skill within minutes. Things went pretty sour after that, but that doesn’t take away from the clear talent he has. He’s very powerful, he’s good with the ball at his feet and he’s built powerfully for a teenager. Hopefully he can make an impact with a goal this evening. Wenger was full of praise for his mad skillz.
“He is a guy who can play in all the offensive positions, I think he could even play centre forward. He has a kind of efficiency in his game, and can get on the end of things.
“He has big potential, creative potential, finishing potential. Serge is 17 years old and strong for a boy of that age.
You know why Wenger is going overboard about this kid? Because Theo isn’t going to sign on for us. This player is why that contentious point won’t matter. The PR cogs are already turning on this one and 90% of Gooners will lap it up. I’m not saying he won’t be good, but I remember how every lapped up the Chamberlain signing and he’s still not made an impact. Teenagers rarely become world class in their teens. This boy looks good, but so did Theo, Vela and Chamberlain. You generally have to wait until they’re early twenties to get the best out of them.
In the centre of midfield, Frimpong and Coquelin will anchor. I love the energy of the Englishman and I love the composure of the Frenchman. The one thing I’d ask of Coquelin is for him to force the game a little more. He’s not blown me away this season, he’s just slipped in, done a good job and that’s it. Pretty similar to Chamberlain. Where is the energy? Where is the excitement? The lack of fear young players are supposed to show when they’re trying to impose themselves on the first team? He has a superb range of passing, he’s good going forward and he reads the game well. It’d be nice to see him lift his game and give Wenger a real selection issue.
Centre backs are settled. It’ll be Johann Djourrou and Koscielny flanked by Miquel and Jenkinson. I feel for the Englishman. He’s been one of our best players this season and he was shipped out of the first team at the first opportunity I can’t critique the decision, it was the right one.
“It was a tough decision, very tough,”
“The team was a bit low in confidence and I felt experience at the back could help. Of course Bacary Sagna has an advantage on Jenkinson in experience.”
Sagna is the best right back in the league. You need your best team on the pitch, especially when you’re playing badly. Jenkinson will get more chances as the campaign goes on. The key take away from his first team stint is he grasped it with both hands. He was superb. He demonstrated his superb engine, his blistering pace and his eye for an accurate cross. We now have a solid right side of defence. Miquel has yet to really impress me. He’s not a typical left back, he’s a bit clumsy and he’s never really looked comfortable in defence. He’ll get his chance though, Wenger seems to have a lot of faith in him.
In goal, Martinez will take the number one jersey. In the photos of yesterday’s training, it looked like Chezzer was back in contention. That’s great news for the United game at the weekend because I’d imagine they’d planned to pepper the goal with shots and crosses to target out weak link. I digress… Martinez has the potential to take the number two slot at some point. Hopefully he isn’t tested too much this evening, but a couple of world class saves and a clean sheet wouldn’t do his CV any harm!
Tonight is hugely important regardless who is playing. We need to start building a sequence of wins. The mind is a fragile thing and even though most of the first team won’t be playing this evening, seeing your pals take a beating from a poor side still impacts. If the kids do a great job, it’ll give the first team confidence at the weekend. Some will palm it off as inconsequential, but for me, winning a cup is a hugely important milestone for this side. All the best managers in the world chase that first trophy after a drought. Mourinho didn’t care where it came from, Ferguson didn’t care… nor would most. We need to snap out of this snobby approach to the cups. If Wenger doesn’t want to build a squad capable of Champions League and Premiership glory, he needs to try a little harder to win the less glamourous trophies… not least because it’ll give the press and the bloggers one less thing to complain about.
Remember, it doesn’t have to be one or the other. It can be top four and a cup.
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That’s your lot, enjoy the game!