Preview: Arsenal v Coventry City
26th September, 2012
Arsenal begin their League Cup campaign with yet another home tie. 6 of the Gunners' last 8 League Cup ties has seen them pulled out of the hat as the home side (one of those occasions was a semi final, which are 2 legged in any case).
Arsene will look again to involve a mixture of young players and squad players in need of minutes, as has become de rigeur in this competition since Arsene took over.
The likes of Yennaris, Miquel and Damian Martinez are expected to start, with Bellerin, Eisfeld and Gnabry on the bench, along with the returning Frimpong.
Coventry meanwhile will be looking to kickstart their season. Having not recorded a victory in their first eight games in League One after last season's relegation, the Sky Blues have a new manager in Mark Robins and a few new players to try and boost them. A win at the Emirates could be just ther filip they need to punctuate a painful two years.
Arsene confirmed that his side will be a mixed bag of youth and frnge players, 'and we have an opportunity to do so against Coventry," he told Arsenal Player.
"Because we have a big squad we will of course put out a strong team. When you think that Wilshere will still not be involved, Rosicky will not be involved, Sagna will not be involved, you can see that the squad is quite big and strong in quality."
He's also given an insight into some of the younger players that could feature, "Hector Bellerin, Kris Olsson, Serge Gnabry, Nico Yennaris and Craig Eastmond could be [involved]," Wenger told Arsenal Player. "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.
Meanwhile, Sky Blues boss Mark Robins was sober about the task facing his team, '"I`ve been to the new stadium and it`s a fantastic place to play football - it`s an occasion they will always remember whatever the result.
"We`ve got a group of players here who have been battered from pillar to post and this is an opportunity to go and shake off that feeling of negativity.
"It would be a magnificent achievement if we could get a result and progress into the next round - fantastic.
"But we`ve got to concentrate on performance rather than the outcome of the game.
"In all fairness it could be anything but whatever it is we`ll deal with that and move on because we`ve got another game on Saturday. All I know for certain is that we`ll be in on Thursday, doing a warm-down recovery that gets us ready for Oldham."
Arsenal Team News:
Arsenal look set to give game time to established players such as Walcott, Giroud and Chamberlain, with fringe players such as Arshavin, Santos and Djourou expected to get their first starts of the season.
Emmanuel Frimpong will start on the bench for the first time following a seven month lay off with a cruciate ligament injury. The game is too early for Jack Wilshere. Wenger will make a late decision as to whether to involve Craig Eastmond. The plan had been to play him, but the midfielder is almost certain to complete a loan move to Colchester United this week. Damian Martinez will play in goal.
Update: Squad Announced: Martinez, Shea, Angha, Bellerin, Djourou, Squillaci, Miquel, A.Santos, Coquelin, Frimpong, Yennaris, Chamberlain, Eisfeld, Walcott, Arshavin, Gnabry, Giroud, Chamakh.
Player to watch: Nico YENNARIS
Yennaris has impressed as a senior figure in the U-21s midfield this season. Whether he plays at right back or central midfield (both feasible), Yennaris will be looking to show Arsene Wenger that he is capable of making the step up from Underhill to Emirates. Realistically, he'll probably have a last throw at the loan dice this season and he'll also be looking to attract suitors of Championship / lower Premier League level in order to develop his talents after his spring spell at Notts County.
Coventry City Team News:
Star striker David McGoldrick is cup tied, having played for parent club Nottingham Forest in the First Round. Meanwhile, Arsenal loanee Conor Henderson is ineligible to face his parent club.
Doubts persist over Steve Jennings, who went off injured on Saturday. but new signing James Bailey should play. Franck Moussa will be checked having missed the weekend match with a virus.
Player to watch: Gary McSheffrey
With their best goalscorer and most creative midfielder unavailable, the Sky Blues will look to Coventry born attacker McSheffrey in they are to hurt Arsenal. At 30 years old, he certainly has the experience and is one of the few Coventry players who has played in the top flight (with Birmingham City).
Match Facts & Stats
The League Cup remains the only domestic trophy Arsene Wenger has yet to win.
The last time this fixture took place, in September 2000, Nico Yennaris was Arsenal's mascot. Arsenal won 3-0 that day.
Coventry have not won any of their first eight league games.
Johan Djourou is set to make his 21st League Cup appearance tonight. The most of any current Arsenal player.
Coventry's Micky Quinn was the last player to score a hat trick against Arsenal at their home ground, back in August 1993. It was also the last time Coventry won in N5.
The two sides have played one another 74 times in total. Arsenal have won 41, there have been 19 draws and 14 Coventry victories- the last coming at Highfield Road in December 1999.
The attendance at Ashburton Grove tonight is expected to top Manchester City and Chelsea combined from last night.
The match official will be 44 year old Mike Jones. The last time he officiated an Arsenal match was the 3-2 win at Hawthorns on the last day of last season.
I'm going for 3-1 to the Gunners. I think Giroud, Walcott and Eisfeld will score for Arsenal, with McSheffrey notching for Coventry.
Arsenal are at home to Chelsea on Saturday. Coventry travel to Oldham Athletic. The draw for the next round will be made at around 10pm this evening. Extra time and penalties will take place in the event of a draw. There will be no replay.