Arsenal v. Wigan
Arsene's Kids go for glory, pride, and recognition once again today in the Carling Cup against a much stronger side than they last faced in the last round, Wigan Athletic. Facing Premier League opposition will certainly pose a greater threat than Sheffield United, though the Young Guns will be buoyed by the fact that it is still in front of the jubilant Gooner home crowd at the Emirates. From what I've heard, the three best atmospheres at Ashburton Grove this season were Tottenham, Sheffield United, and Manchester United. With Arsenal still energized from the weekend result, the home faithful will be in full voice behind the youngsters today.
Speaking ahead of the game, Wenger talked up the talent of young Mexican forward Carlos Vela. 'He is naturally gifted, quick, intelligent and with very good technique, so you now want him to add that combative, determined side that makes the difference,' Wenger said.
'He'll quickly be a world-class striker when he adds that to his game. Some day we all get our chance - the target is to take that chance when you get it, and he has the potential to do that.'
He also spoke of the quality of the English (yes English) talent coming up via the youth system. 'Jack Wilshere scored a good goal (in the last round), and we know that people will be following his progress because there is a big expectation level here for English players to be produced,' said the Frenchman.
'There is such big love for the national team that people want to see big players coming out from the top clubs and we are happy to do that.
'And it is not only Jack - we had a lot of good English players on the pitch (in the last round) such as Mark Randall, Gavin Hoyte and Kieran Gibbs.
'They have all done very, very well - recently I feel we've produced very good English players, and I think that quality-wise we are now more complete than ever.'
Arsenal Team News:
Nobody in the starting lineup against the Mancs will be in the squad for today, except for Bendtner. The Dane might start again at striker, but with the support from Carlos Vela this time. Though if Nik is rested then expect Jay Simpson to come in.
Mark Randall has been bothered with a injury for the last week, but all other injuries are all in the first team, so Arsene should have a plethora of vibrant young talent to choose from.
Amaury Bischoff scored a cracker against Fulham in a reserve fixture and we could see him make his first full Arsenal appearance today, though I see that as unlikely. Also, Robin van Persie is suspended though he was never going to feature in this fixture.
Player to watch: Djourou & Song
The centre back partnership will be tantalizing to watch as they face a extremely talented Zaki for Wigan. Personally I see this pairing being the choice for the future Arsenal's defense, and it'll be interesting to see how they cope against an always strong and well organized Steve Bruce team.
Wigan Team News:
The big injury news for the Latics is the hamstring injury to Emile Heskey. Although not the most talented of strikers, his physical presence and support play make him a pivotal component in the Wigan attack. Zaki's success this year has come mainly off of scavenging off Heskey's support play. Expect Henri Camara to fill in for the brute Englishman.
Player to watch: Amr Zaki
The artistic 25 year old Egyptian has been a major hit at the JJB this season. He has literally hit the ground running in the Premier League since being brought in on loan from Zamalek in July. In thirteen starts he has notched nine goals, and his skill will keep Djourou and Song's hands full all night.
Match Facts & Stats
Anyone that watched the game against Sheffield two months ago will know that these so-called 'kids' can beat anyone put in front of them. Even though I know Wigan are a talented team, the team they will face today will be unlike anything they have ever come across in their careers. These youngsters have what almost no one else in the competition has, something to prove. I see Arsenal moving on to the next round with a 4-1 win over Wigan.
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