Match day again. This time, it’s the second domestic cup competition in England, the League Cup. When I started to follow the team, it was known as the Coca Cola Cup, in which we’ve managed to win two of those trophies. Since it was changed to Worthingthon Cup and Carling Cup, we have not been able to lift the trophy. Hopefully the change to Capital One Cup brings about better luck for us.
This competition only guarantees a place in the Europa League, which is not something that a club of our stature aspires for every season. However, a trophy is still a trophy, regardless of what value it brings. In the case for us, what is we could gain by winning this trophy does not lie with the monetary reward nor the path to Europe’s second cup competition nor bragging rights. It represents a chance for the players to understand what winning trophies means and to certain sections, a chance to end the trophy-less years remarks.
What’s interesting in this season’s competition is the fact that the Football League has introduced a new ruling which required their clubs to play at least 6 of their starters from their previous league games. That negates any chance of teams who are in contention of promotion within their respective leagues to put out weaker teams. However, the Football League does not control the Premier League clubs and that excludes us from complying with the ruling.
Over the years, we’ve used this competition to breed the new and exciting talents that are coming out from our reserves and youth production lines. Notable names have played and progressed after starting out for us in this competition. The likes of Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie, Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs, Wojciech Szczesny and Alex Song have all used this competition to build a name for themselves. It’s a chance for the youngsters to work with the senior squad for at least a week and be able to play in a slightly more competitive and challenging environment in front of the watchful eyes of the senior team coaches.
Tonight’s opposition is Coventry City. A team currently languishing in the bottom three of League One, which is 2 divisions below us. A team that has not won any league games in the 8 matches that they’ve played thus far this season. Their manager, Mark Robins had some kind words for our Under-11′s and knows that they have an uphill task tonight, even if we decide to field a very young side. The fact that the match is being played at what is a sold out fixtures at the Emirates, will be another advantage played to our hands.
Therefore for us, this represents a chance for Arsene Wenger to blood in some new and exciting talents. With that in mind, I don’t think we should concentrate solely on that fact and completely forgo any attempt to win this competition. Of the youngsters mentioned by Wenger, Nico Yennaris and Ignasi Miquel looks to good bets to starts while the others should be on the bench. As it is, we have quite a healthy squad at the moment and are doing quite well in the other competitions that we’ve competed thus far this season. Since the start of the season, we’ve managed to field an almost regular line-ups game in, game out.
Those that have played in every single game are likely to miss out this game. That means, the likes of Kieran Gibbs, Per Mertesacker, Carl Jenkinson, Mikel Arteta, Santi Cazorla, Lukas Podolski and probably Gervinho. Every one else who are fit, does have a chance to feature against Coventry. There are still a lot of players who are in the first team who haven’t got much chances to feature, due to our good start. The likes of Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Johan Djourou, Andre Santos, Andrey Arshavin, Francis Coquelin, Aaron Ramsey, Olivier Giroud and Marouane Chamakh will be chomping at the bits to get some action in this game.
It will be a good test for the highly rated Damien Martinez to get his first team run-out in front of the home fans. The Argentinian benefiting from injuries to the Polish duo to at least gain some experience being on the bench for first team games. Meanwhile for Djourou, this is a new start for him after playing little last season as well as this. He did not shine in the games he played last season, though to be fair, he was played out of position at right back. The 3 centre backs ahead of him in the pecking order are so much better than him at the moment, it’s hard for him to break into the side. Hopefully, he will fully utilise these opportunities to find his confidence back again.
The same could be said of Santos and Arshavin. Both paths blocked by the performance of the players who have come in. Gibbs and Podolski have been very good in the games that they’ve played and the manager had no reason to drop them before. I have no doubts that the longer the season goes on, there will be more chances for the duo to feature more but at the moment, they like Djourou will have to grab every chance that they get to play.
Up front, the Walcott saga rumbles on and even today’s game, will see his chance to play in the striker’s role limited. Even if Giroud is saved for the weekend’s game, there’s every chance that Chamakh might get the nod. I’ve said all along that the right sided attacking role is best suited for Walcott and I don’t really understand his determination to play in the central role. As for Giroud, there’s no extra or less pressure for his to open the scoring, regardless of who we are playing.
Those who managed to get tickets to the game are the luckiest people today as they will be the only ones able to watch the game live. For the rest of us, it will most probably be delayed, for which I’m hoping to be able to resist the temptation to follow the match on the internet. Whichever the case, we all still hope to still be in the competition, whenever we get to watch it.
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