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Another chance for Coquelin to show his stuff, albeit in a less pressure match that his last away trip

Carling Cup returns to action tonight. I have to admit, this is a competition which I do enjoy and look forward to each season. Perhaps the biggest reason is how Arsene Wenger has chose to use this competition. As a way to blood the reserves and give us a view of what’s to be expected for the future of Arsenal Football Club.

This competition has given rise to many of the previous and current stars of the first team. Cesc Fabregas, Gael Clichy, Jack Wilshere, Robin Van Persie, Alex Song and many others benefited from being given games in the 3rd most prestigious competition in England (Paint Johnstone entries might disagree). That trend looks set to continue as the manager has already mentioned that he will not go against the grain for this match.

There’s plenty of excitement generated by the possibility of seeing young prodigious talents. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (AOC) and Ryo Miyaichi are the two highly rated individuals of whom a lot is expected from. Both are young players with not much top flight football experience. However, both have showed glimpses of their talents to ensure the spotlights remained focus on them.

Then there’s also the last of the new recruits, who so far has not got any minutes for Arsenal yet. Park Ju Young was signed amidst much controversy from Monaco. Lille claimed we snatched him right under their noses but rightly or wrongly, that is in the past now. Here is an opportunity to see what he brings to the team.

Wenger has said that these players would play tonight. Whether it is right from the off or from the bench, remains to be seen. However, they will also be complimented by those who did not play at the weekend. Players who are either on the fringes of the first team or were not selected due to lack of form. Lukasz Fabianski, Carl Jenkinson, Johan Djourou, Emmanuel Frimpong and Marouane Chamakh are just some of those with more Premiership experience that will lend their hand tonight.

There’s a lot of talk about Wenger switching back to a 4-4-2 formation to suit the players available for tonight. In that case, let’s do two different line-ups. First up the standard 4-3-3 that we’ve been using the past 2 – 3 seasons now.


Or alternatively, the 4-4-2 one;


I don’t expect there to be a big difference to the personnel playing tonight’s game in terms of formation wise. Park is not a wide player and is better playing off a big strong frontman like Chamakh. Unless Wenger decides to throw the South Korean on from the start, I think our formation retains its status quo. That said, I wouldn’t be too surprise if Park plays wide, something which a certain Danish striker experienced before.

What can be said about Shrewsbury Town. Here’s what I found. They are currently playing in League Two. That’s 3 divisions below us. They were on the cusp of promotion to League One last season but failed at the play-off hurdle. They are currently third in that particular league having won 5 games, drawn 2 and lost the other 2.They have scalped higher division teams in the first 2 rounds of this competitions in Derby County and Swansea City respectively.

The fact that they have beaten higher ranked teams, shows that they are no pushovers. Like any lower division side, they will fight for every ball and play with a lot of determination. It will be remiss of them to not note the gulf in quality. But in most cases, desires trumps any quality that is without hard work. However, despite all work, I think we should all still be fairly certain of progression to the next round of Carling Cup.

There’s no point hiding from the truth. Arsenal as a team in general are in a rut. As Wenger calls it, as cycle of results that has been very disappointing. The cycle does need to be broken but it would not be any indication whichever way this match goes. This match is a one-off. We’re not exactly going to depend on the line-up tonight to challenge for the biggest trophies in England and Europe.

The Carling Cup game tonight is as much about creating a winning mentality as putting in a performance. These are young players, some of whom will get their first ever run-out on at the Grove. With all the talent in the world, no one will ever make it to the top without application, desire and determination to perform to their utmost in every single game. For so many, that journey starts tonight

Come on Arsenal!!!!