The League Cup continues today with the fifth round, and while a host of Premier League sides like Swansea, West Brom, Chelsea and Liverpool will be involved, the Gunners will mostly be switching between Holby City and pre-recorded episodes of Rip off Britain, for those of them who could not wake up early. And why not? They are certainly in need of much rest and should be granted that. Here are other reasons they and all Gooners should be happy about our non-involvement.
- Extra rest from travels… And travails
Two away games on the bounce, survived in grueling, tense conditions. We scraped through at Belgium, and got gifted a buffet at Sunderland. The players must be gasping for a breather, especially the likes of Alexis. The Chilean will take the credit as the one to score our only goal in the competition this season, record previously held by Thomas Eisfeld. Wenger will also love to keep the focus on the main events – the Premier League – and would benefit from not breaking momentum by a shift to a less fancied cup competition. A defeat could slip in a crack in our currently fragile confidence.
- We won’t lose a third Keeper
Surely, we’d have to put Emi Martinez in goal for the game and that would mean risking the 22 year old with the possibility of having just one goalkeeper for at least the next three months. Not that Martinez is going to have a bad warm up or things of that sort before the game but having lost Ospina in frustrating circumstances, you never know what could go wrong during the game which could end up costing us our sole back-up goalie. Injuries to other key players have also shortened the squad, making us thin in various areas in the team. Though it would have been a good opportunity to test youngsters and the fringe players, would it really be worth it playing the game for the sake of it with the attendant risk of picking up a few more knocks, considering we’ll be playing a tough Premier League opposition. And speaking of that…
- Wednesday night at Stoke?
Good ol’stoke, on a cold Wednesday night? Mark Hughes side would have been our opponents if we had overcome Southampton and though his side do not operate on the Pulis template, the sight of seeing Shawcross approach Ramsey isn’t quite what we want at the moment.
Our boy will be live in action again tonight, looking to continue his scintillating goal scoring frenzy. The 21 year old loanee has enjoyed the first few months of his short stint at MK, scoring a stunning 12 goals in 17 games, including 5 in just 3 League Cup games. He is the top scorer in the competition and must fancy his chances of getting a few more this night when Sheffield United visit the Dons. This must be the game Wenger tunes in to today, as it may begin to come to his mind to tender a recall of the youngster in January. His success so far, with that of Jenkinson at West Ham has been one positive for us this season as we can be hopeful of welcoming back players with burgeoning ability and experience.
A place in the fifth round beckons for the promising youngster and his progression can only be a delight to gooners world over. So, say we all have more white than red on our gears tonight, rooting for the Dons!
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