The first Cup game of the season is here, just two games in!
That is the Corona effect, as the game adapts to the hiatus on all professional sports that occurred earlier in the year, it means that fixture lists are going to pop out anomalies like this and headaches for clubs everywhere, but there is a silver lining.
With the transfer window ongoing until October, this EFL Cup 3rd round tie against Leicester City represents an opportunity to play the players that are reportedly near the exit door – and possibly drive up the fee for their transfer.
Despite the difficulty in winning any silverware these days, the EFL Cup will still register low down on the list of priorities for clubs and Arsenal will be no different. Our squad size is a decent though, so even if Mikel Arteta rotates his side, we will still have recognisable faces throughout.
It is a chance for some of our newer generation of youth stars to shine as well. Although given the stature of our opponent and the fact that winning games is a habit that is hard to pick up and easy to drop – Arteta could well name a stronger side than any of us can anticipate.
Leicester will be hungry for silverware too. They have elevated themselves amongst the big boys and to ensure that isn’t just a passing phase, they will have to maintain success. The EFL Cup is a chance to do just that, so Brendan Rodgers will have his troops up for this.
Who should Arteta give his eleven spots to?
It seems inevitable that new signing Runar Alex Runarsson will take the gloves for this one. No pressure on the young keeper and he can get his debut under his belt.
In defence, Sokratis could have started this match. The Greek defender is very much on the list of possible departures and his performance could seal a move away, but he is currently sidelined with a short term injury, which could make any possible transfers difficult. William Saliba is very much one for the future and could start his first team education by starting this game. Cedric is also out for this game with a calf strain so Maitland-Niles could step in and Kolasinac on the left would complete the back four.
In midfield, Mo Elneny could come back in after his solid showing against Fulham. Joe Willock is another who could make his first start of the season too. Out wide, Nicolas Pepe could do with a start and some minutes to gain his sharpness, and Eddie Nketiah, Reiss Nelson and Joe Willock are all in line too to grab some minutes. Smith-Rowe would have likely featured too, but the youngster is out with a shoulder injury sustained in training.
Does this mean we could see a return for Mesut Ozil?
Player to Watch
The diminutive schemer seems to have streaks of red-hot form and his display in their 4-2 mauling of Burnley smacked of a player just starting to hit the top gears. What makes him so hard to pick up is his deceptive off-the-ball running. He doesn’t quite conform to any shape of formation and he is constantly in between midfield and the opponents defence, sniffing out pockets of space. Perez could be up against the raw Saliba, which would certainly be an interesting matchup.
How This Could Go
Leicester City will want some glory this season, after narrowly missing out on the top four this season. They have invested, and Turkish international, Under, is the latest acquisition in the Foxes camp. They are well armed and with Vardy in their ranks, they always pose a threat.
So much depends on the blend of Arteta’s eleven. The likes of Smith-Rowe and Nelson will have the hunger to prove something and will cause problems for Leicester. We need to be physically sharp and when not in possession – pick up our roles quickly. If we attack too much, then Leicester will exploit any failure to get back into position.
We can win this, but we need our kids to shine and our more experienced pro’s to be the sage decision-makers in the heat of the game.
This game reeks of goals too. A 0-0 draw this WON’T be.
Predicted Lineup – Runarsson, AMN, Saliba, Luiz, Kolasinac, Willock, Elneny, Nelson, Ozil, Saka, Nketiah
Predicted Scoreline – 2-2 – Arsenal win on spot-kicks.