So, there is some midweek action against West Bromwich Albion to keep us going through a mundane week. It will be a great chance for the manager to give a run out to players returning from injury as well as some fresh faces while also being able to field players who are back from a footballing exile.
The Capitol One Cup has been a mixed bag for Arsenal in recent years. From losing in the finals in 2007 and 2011, to to extremely memorable games like the 7-5 win over Reading and 6-0 win over Sheffield United few years back, to crashing out at the hands of lowly Bradford City.
However, it also does provide Arsenal a chance to land some silverware, and has been considered Arsenal’s best chance of a trophy in recent years. Having been accused of using the competition as a platform for youngsters in recent years, Arsenal’s entire first squad put on an abysmal display against Bradford last season. It seems like the trend could continue, with Arsene Wenger naming a largely youthful squad for the game tonight.
Arsenal’s injury list continues to grow deeper, with Theo Walcott now ruled out for a few weeks owing to an abdominal muscle strain, which means he will have to undergo an operation in Germany for the same.
Apart from that, Tomas Rosicky is rumored to be in contention for next week’s Champions League clash against Napoli, while Lukas Podolski too is a few weeks away from a return to first team action.
All this injury muddle means a possible start for Danish striker Niklas Bendtner after over 2 years since his last appearance in an Arsenal shirt. He has had a rough ride since the 2-1 home loss to Liverpool in August 2011. He played a season on loan at Sunderland, crashed a few cars, broke his nose, wore a Batman mask and scored 8 goals.
He then went off to Euro 2012, scored twice against Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal, revealing his Paddy Power underpants and putting himself in a soup with UEFA. His next move was to Juventus in the Serie A, where he again crashed a few cars, suffered injuries, did not score any goals and managed to get a 6 month suspension for drunken driving from the Danish FA. Quite an uneventful time.
Well, he is now back at Arsenal, and to be honest, the boy does have some talent, and quite an attitude to go with it. In 3 full season with Arsenal from 2008 to 2011, where he was in and out of the first team, he scored 36 goals, many of them vital ones. The goals against Hull, Stoke, Aston Villa and Wolves come to mind instantly. There were some good goals too, the opener against Ipswich, a hat-trick against Porto etc.
His arrogant attitude, lack of effort in training and a fetish for drunken driving have spiralled his career to nowhereness, but the Capitol One Cup will provide him some ground for a redemption. Could Arsene Wenger revive the Greatest Striker That Ever Lived? Only time will tell.
On Bendtner’s part, he has been working on his fitness the past few weeks. Seems like he has been working on a new Japanese samurai style hairstyle too. Let’s hope he can provide some back up for Olivier Giroud, who is being rested tonight.
Right, team news then. Thomas Vermaelen and Mikel Arteta will make returns to the first team tonight, after their injury problems. Emiliano Viviano, signed on loan from Palermo (or was it Parma?) will make his debut in goal. There will also be outings for Carl Jenkinson and Nacho Monreal on the defensive flanks. Young Isaac Hayden could partner Vermaelen at the back. With Walcott and Chamberlain out, Ryo Miyaichi and Serge Gnabry will be given a chance to impress. I would like to see Mathieu Flamini rested and Emmanuel Frimpong been given a chance. Thomas Eisfeld could start too.
West Brom have their own injury concerns. Chris Brunt (groin), Ben Foster (foot) and Shane Long (hamstring) will all be missing for Albion, while Steven Reid (knock). Matej Vydra (hamstring) and George Thorne (knee) are doubtful for the clash.
Here is how I expect the sides to line up.
Arsenal will have to deal with the pace and physicality of new signing Stephane Sessegnon and on loan striker Victor Anichebe. Steve Clark could give young Saido Berahino another start, after his hattrick against Newport in the previous round. West Brom will also have options such as Nicolas Anelka and Markus Rosenborg from the bench.
Arsenal will have to make full use of the wings, and hope Serge Gnabry kicks off from where he left at the weekend, a lively performance against Stoke.
Enjoy the game wherever you are!
Jai Arsenal 🙂
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P.S – A minor correction. Emmanuel Frimpong is not included in the squad. Chances of Mathieu Flamini starting are high!