The League Cup -or better known these days as the Capital One Cup after its current sponsors- has kicked off once again. It's a competition that's considered low priority by the big clubs maybe because of the £100k prize money that is awarded by the Football League to the winners -WTF is that? £100k?
The big clubs see the competition as an opportunity to give younger players and fringe players a run out which usually paves the way for giants slaying by the smaller clubs who usually take it quite seriously since it may be their only chance to get their hands on a trophy and then provides a short cut to Europe to feature in the Europa League.
The giant slaying has in fact begun already as Premier League champions Manchester City got knocked out last night by Aston Villa after Villa won the game 4-2 at home. Everton also fell to Leeds United 2-1 away but Chelsea hit Wolverhampton for six with none replied.
Wenger was recently quoted as saying "the League Cup will not end my trophy drought," and has in the past fielded mostly youngsters from the reserves as he attempted to give them valuable big game experience. Maybe it was the trophy drought but in the 2010/11 season he took the competition seriously enough to mix and match youth and experience and got to the finals where Obafemi Martins took advantage of a defensive mix-up in the dying minutes to win the game for Birmingham. Let's not relive the pain.
Tonight we are up against Coventry at home and Wenger will be looking to a mix of youth and experience once again to execute the League Cup campain,
“Hector Bellerin, Kris Olsson, Serge Gnabry, Nico Yennaris and Craig Eastmond could be involved. All these players could have an opportunity to play. Ignasi Miquel will play. We will have a good mixture of experience and professional top-class players.
We want to put out a talented side that has a good chance to win the game. We will give a chance to some players who have not played as many games recently. The players that did not play on Sunday [at Manchester City] will get a chance and it’s a good opportunity for them to show they can do well.”We can expect to see the likes of Arshavin, Djourou and Walcott being handed starting shirts today. Squillacci? Don't be ridiculous even the League Cup is too high priority for him. Chamakh? Still listed as ill on the injury register so I don't think so. Frimpong? Wenger said he will start from the bench and will be put on if possible.
Will be interesting to see where Wenger plays Theo today though. Will he be given a chance to play as a center forward in a low priority game like this? We'll see.
Giroud may just be given a chance to get on today and attempt to break that metal duck of his. May work in his favour and he will find the net but my fear is that if he doesn't score, his critics will add couldn't-even-score-against-lowly-Coventry to their lingo.
Arshavin will have a chance to feature today and I do hope he's able to make a case for his inclusion in the first team today. He's such a talent and will provide good competition for places if only he can replicate his early form for the club. I just get the feeling that the high standards in the present first team is the shock treatment he needs to galvanize him from his slumber.
We should expect to see a good game tonight with Coventry playing with gusto knowing they have nothing to lose, emboldened by the knowledge that this is a knockout fixture and looking to cause an upset. They will play with vigour and enjoy their day out in the city thoroughly and if by chance they go against the odds and beat Arsenal, the champagne bottles will be rolled out.
Good news is we have enough quality even in the reserves to take on lowly Coventry. Bad news is that it doesn't look like the game will be aired on TV. In my neck of the woods, DSTV has listed only the United vs Newcastle game and the West Brom vs Liverpool game. Damn! Guess it's the internet then. One way or other we'll find a way to support the team. Good luck, Boys!
Will be in touch via Twitter through out with updates as they come.Be sure to follow @naijaendgooner if you don't already. Holla!
Update: Squad list for tonight has been released and looks like I was wrong about Chamakh; he made the list. And much to my chagrin, Squillacci is on it too. Full list below:
Santos,Giroud,Walcott,Ox,Squillaci, Djourou,Coq, Arshavin,Frimpong, Chamakh,Martinez,Angha,Bellerin,Eisfeld, Gnabry, Miquel,Shea,Yennaris
— Lalah (@naijaendgooner) September 26, 2012