Arsenal head to Hillsborough on Tuesday night, with a place in this seasons League Cup quarter finals at stake. The Gunners are on very good form, but Arsene Wenger is expected to make wholesale changes for this fixture.
With trips to Swansea and Bayern Munich coming up, shortly followed by a North London Derby, The Gunners cannot afford to go full strength against Sheffield Wednesday. With fatigue looking like it is having an effect on some of the squad already, it is essential our key players aren’t risked for this fixture.
The ‘back up’ players should be good enough to see us through to the last eight, and then we might start risking more of our more valuable players in this competition. Here’s how Arsenal are likely to line-up on the night.
Formation : 4-2-3-1
Goalkeeper: Petr Cech
Cech is our only fit first team goalkeeper at the moment and Wenger has confirmed he will start this one. If he were to get injured, with Ospina out for another month or so, you’d hope that the Gunners have a re-call option for Damian Martinez, who is currently impressing at Wolves.
Left Back: Kieran Gibbs
Gibbs’ ability to play on the left of midfield has meant he has appeared a fair few times off the bench this season, but cannot get a start thanks to Nacho Monreal. He needs to take his chances when he gets them, especially if he wants a chance of playing in the European Championships next summer. This game gives him a good chance to showcase his qualities, but realistically it will take an injury to Monreal for him to get an extended run in the first team.
Centre Backs: Per Mertesacker and Calum Chambers
The same duo that played in the last round against Tottenham are likely to feature again. Both are quality defenders but now seem to find themselves behind Gabriel and Laurent Koscielny in the pecking order. Chambers needs more gametime in the heart of defence to help him develop there.
Right Back: Mathieu Debuchy
Much like Gibbs, Debuchy is struggling to displace an on form player in his position – Hector Bellerin. Unlike Gibbs, when Debuchy has been given a chance he has not impressed. Sadly he appears to be
CDM: Glen Kamara
Strong in the tackle and confident in possession, Kamara will turn 20 on Wednesday and needs to make an impact in the first team soon, this game may give him that chance. He was named on the bench against Galatasaray in the Champions League last year and has trained with the Finland senior team. He is highly rated amongst the youth setup at Arsenal, but there is an acceptance that he needs to make the breakthrough soon – is now the time?
CDM: Mathieu Flamini
The hero of the last round, I’d be very surprised if Flamini did not start this game. Francis Coquelin cannot afford to be risked, whilst playing Chambers and Kamara (the only real alternative) would pair an extremely unexperienced duo.
Left Midfield: Joel Campbell
Oh Joely. He only seems to still be lingering around due to a lack of options in our squad to be quite honest with you. He needs to do something special this season to stay at the club beyond the summer. Can he prove his worth tomorrow?
Central Attacking Midfield: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Chamberlain really needs to kick on this season. His defensive discipline is worrying, as is his quality in possession, which must improve. With Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla likely to be rested and Tomas Rosicky injured, the Ox could get a chance in the number 10 role.
Right Midfield: Alex Iwobi
You might not think he should play as it would make us too ‘weak’ – but much like Kamara, Iwobi is at an age (19) where he needs to start playing some first team football. We are only a couple of injuries away from needing him in the first team, so it would be good for him to get some gametime. He has the ability too, as he has proved in the Emirates Cup and the UEFA youth league.
Striker: Theo Walcott
With Olivier Giroud getting a start at the weekend and putting in a man of the match performance, Walcott may have been relegated to second choice again. If he starts, he’ll be keen to really stake his claim to be first choice again. I think he’ll get on the scoresheet tomorrow.
Prediction: Sheffield Wednesday 1-2 Arsenal
Possible subs: Macey; Gabriel, Monreal; Bielik, Cazorla, Sheaf; Giroud