The rubber-cup Robocop challenge is here again!
After the exciting weekend of Premier League action where we had it all our way, hostilities resume again in the League Cup with Southampton as the opposition. This will be our third game in just seven days but thankfully, it will be a home game which is a welcome development for us having travelled for the last two games, to varying results.
Traditionally, this competition has been Wenger’s test ground for upcoming talents and despite the might of the Saints and the threat they pose, it does not seem Wenger will do otherwise and in the face of our injury predicaments, he should not. Bellerin, Hayden, Semi Ajayi and Chuba Akpom are all in the squad for the game, with the first two expected to start.
With several members of the first team most likely to be rested, we should see a team with the mix of those willing to impress and those who have to impress. And for the latter, it is one which they must treat like a League game. Ospina, Podolski, Coquelin, Campbell and Diaby should feature in the game, probably off the start. It will be to them that the youngsters will look for inspiration and they must not fail to provide.
In the Saints, we have a proper Premier League opposition who currently seat comfortable at second spot on the log. Much like Arsenal in the past, they have not listened to the prophecies of doom that have been clouded over them following the exodus of several stars of their impressive campaign last season. Ronald Koeman has simply gone on to build himself another formidable team, if not a better one. Morgan Schneiderlin has been imperious this season with 3 stunning goals in the League while new recruits Dusan Tadic and the big strong Graziano Pele have combined well in front of goal, while the two they replaced are grinding their teeth at Anfield. The Saints are very much as good they have been over the past few months and surely should give us enough with which to prepare ourselves for the weekend date with the Spurs.
Our last League Cup game was very disappointing, in as much as it was self-inflicted. Chelsea did not overly deserve to be winners of that game, and we must avoid not giving away cheap opportunities like the one Jenkinson did. The defence today may not be the first-choice back four but they should be up to the challenge. With Monreal out, there is the situation that Flamini may be asked to fill in at left back seeing we just cannot afford to risk Kieran Gibbs. He should become the obvious choice there, especially if youngsters Hayden, Chambers and Bellerin are given the nod.
Rosicky and Diaby, the two most injured players in the squad should orchestrate the midfield and will meet good opposition in the likes of the Saints’ aforementioned Frenchman as well as former Arsenal target Victor Wanyama who scored their winner at the Liberty over the weekend. Campbell and Podolski will do well to keep both their left feet in resonance so as to breakdown what is usually a stiff Southampton defence. You reckon the first goal will be crucial to winning it.
Southampton come to the Emirates with something of a point to prove, having failed in two attempts to take anything other than the sights and sounds from their previous visits in the League, there is that extra little motivation to finally grab something. However, having got our winning wand back in hand, building momentum towards the upcoming run of fixtures which will see us face Spurs, Galatasaray and Chelsea is absolutely essential.
It may take longer than 4 minutes to get the job done, but we should be able to get it done anyway.
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