So Arsenal are aiming for their 20th game in a row unbeaten against Southampton at the Emirates tonight, and it is fully expected that there will be another slew of changes from the weekend’s game against Bournemouth. The Saints are sitting comfortably in mid table so I expect them to play their very best team in an attempt to reach the League Cup semi final, so it will certainly not be an easy one for our makeshift side. “It’s an opportunity to try to win something,” the Saints boss Claude Puel said. “The last game against Everton was a fantastic game, with good intensity and a good physical level.”
His team haven’t progressed past this round in the last 7 seasons so will be keen to make amends, but then again, the last three times that Arsenal have faced a Premiership team in this competition they have been beaten 1-0, so which record is set to be broken?
Tonight’s Arsenal team will be very hard to predict considering Wenger’s promised rotations, but I will have a good go…. Obviously Emi Martinez will be between the sticks as he said earlier: “The boss told me that I would play in the League Cup at the beginning of the season and I trust him,”
“I’m playing every game so I’m really looking forward to Southampton. We have had two big games already, with Forest away and Reading at home, and Championship sides are tough sides in this competition because they’ve got nothing to lose.”
Arsenal are decidedly short of right-backs at the moment, but Jenkinson will get given another opportunity to impress. Maitland-Niles is a back-up to Jenko, but I think he will be returned to the middle, where he played against Reading in the last round, while Gabriel should be moved back to the centre to partner Holding, with Gibbs (probably captain?) returning to the left.
I’m thinking one of Xhaka or Elneny will be playing in the centre alongside the youngster, but with Ramsey only playing 15 mins at the weekend he may start tonight, but where?
We are also short of strikers if Alexis is rested and Giroud unavailable, so I’m hoping that Wenger feels that Lucas is ready to start a game. Behind him I expect Reine-Adelaide to play as he has in the last two rounds. Iwobi was rested at weekend so should start, and Ox is a certainty to be there as he has actually scored our last three League Cup goals!
So here is the predicted line up……
Jenkinson – Gabriel – Holding – Gibbs
Maitland-Niles – Elneny
Ox – Jeff – Iwobi
As for the score, I am not being opimistic tonight and think it will be a very close thing. I’m going for 1-1 at 90 minutes, with Wenger’s reserves making the difference in extra time…..
What do you think?