The senior side or the first team, whichever you want to call it, takes a breather today as Arsenal looks to face Reading at the Madejski Stadium in the Fourth Round of the Capital One Cup. This is the competition that was put in the last position by Arsene Wenger and as we’ve talked to death last week, rightly so. However, that doesn’t preclude us from trying to win this match and progress to the next stage of the competition.
Obviously the players that started the match on Saturday, as usual, are not likely to be involved. That means Vito Mannone, Andre Santos, Thomas Vermaelen, Per Mertesacker, Bacary Sagna, Mikel Arteta, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere, Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla will all have to be their winter clothings and watch the match from behind the dugout. From the latest team update; Gervinho, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Wojciech Szczesny are also not available for this game.
From the same article, Wenger also mentioned that the younger players whom he wants are available to him. From the last game, Martin Angha and Damien Martinez got their chance. Not sure if there are any new names who will be involved but surely there’s a place this time for Thomas Eisfeld. The young German has been in amongst the goal for the reserves and must be pushing hard for some first team action. I’m not overly convinced whether he can cut it with us but we’ll never know by looking at him in the reserves only. Best of luck to him if he were to get his chances today.
Nico Yennaris, Serge Gnabry and Ignasi Miquel are among those aiming to get the call-up again. While Emmanuel Frimpong, Johan Djourou and Andrey Arshavin will hope to get the chance to prove their fitness and that they too, deserve a place with the first team. For the likes of Francis Coquelin and Carl Jenkinson, they know that with the returning players, they are now down in the pecking order. However, games like this is the best opportunity to remind the manager that he’s got options.
That’s a decent line-up with adequate amount of experience in the defence and midfield. The one name which jumps out at you is probably Theo Walcott and where he is placed in that line-up. Now, I know Wenger has always mentioned that Walcott has the ability to play centrally but has yet to be utilised there. There were a game or two during Walcott’s time with us that he did play as the central striker but the less we speak about that game(s), the better. The line-up is what I hope the manager will go for.
The game after this, is the trip away to Old Trafford. Now, given how we’ve performed in recent weeks, it is clear we do prefer to have the speedy option of Walcott to be introduced into the game. That said, he is still recovering from his injury and I do see this as an opportunity to play him as a striker. Not for the full game, because we still need him for the weekend. Perhaps for one half.
I know I’ve previously been opposed to using Walcott there. So just hear me out first. If the manager has no intention of playing Marouane Chamakh in any of the Premier League or Champions League games, then there is absolutely no justification why the Moroccan should get minutes. It is better off giving the opportunity to someone else. Someone else like Chuba Akpom, who is still only 17 years old but is definitely one for the future. But to tie in with the intention to progress through the competition, perhaps it doesn’t help to use Akpom right from the start. This is where Walcott comes in.
Third bottom in the league, Reading has found the going tough, in their return to the top flight. For that reason, Brian McDermott may opt to concentrate more on their Premier League survival. Which will then mean that they might go for a more second string side for tonight’s game. Of course, the other reasoning might be that since Reading are aware that we will fill a mixed team today, this is a good opportunity to beat us and thus gain some confidence from it. Can’t say for certain which one McDermott will go for. From what I’ve seen of them this season, Reading has been really poor, so it will be interesting to see what the former Arsenal man goes for.
With Manchester United and Chelsea meeting each other for the second time in a week’s time, there will be another big team that will get knock out this round. Hard to argue that our chances of winning this competition will not be increased by after the completion of fixtures for Round 4. More than most, the team thrives on positive results. Be it the first team or the second string side, another win won’t cause us any harm at all.
Up The Arsenal!!!