I was going to write a short piece on my thoughts around the squad and team selection for our entrée in the Capital One Cup. After all there is nothing inspiring to write about as a rule during international breaks and ‘Lady Luck’ has been kind, drawing us at home to struggling League 1 outfit Coventry. Rather depressingly her Ladyship also decided to be kind to all the ‘Big Boys’ with there being only 2 all Premiership ties and only Liverpool away to West Brom a likely casualty. The observation that Liverpool are no longer being a force would be cheap and beneath me and they are, let’s not forget the holders.
It is 20 years since we last tasted victory in the second tier domestic cup competition, when in 1993 George Graham’s fading side somehow managed an likley double, with Steve Morrow an unlikelier match winner . Silverware though is silverware, and a Wembley day out is a Wembley day out and I want both again. Most particulary I want the sour taste of my last visit in 2011 replaced with the sweet taste of glory next spring. The Magic Man’s wonder strike against Sheffield Wednesday in 93, or as he would now call it, ‘a Worldie,’ is right up there with my finer moments as a Gooner. The simulated beer guzzling celebration right in front of me never to be forgotten, particularly given the subsequent revelations.
This competition has a special place in my heart whatever it happens to be called. As the Littlewoods Cup it provided me with my first great moment at Wembley in 1987. The Charlie Nicholas final – ‘One nil down 2 one up we f’..ked Rushies record up.’ A similar feat in the replay of the semi v Spurs when Rocky scored the winner tell you why my blog is named as it is. In 1987 it heralded the start of Arsenal Glory years under George Graham, just as victory in 2005 was the catalyst for Mourinho’s Chelsea. As the new Wenger team of 2012/13 takes shape under the new guidance of Banfield and Bould who’s to say that a victory for this team in 2013 won’t be the start of something special? Stevie Bould himself joined after the 87 sucess and was injured for the 93 final so I am sure our new Assistant Manager would like to add the only domestic honour missing from his trophy cabinet. Our last success was also notable because the players who started the final, were the 11 that finished. Neither of the 2 substitutes, as only 2 were allowed in those days came on. I only mention that as my theme for today is the starting 11.
A run to the final and victory in the Capital one Cup can be the spring board to greater glory as it should have been 2 years ago so how are we going to ensure this happens? Who will Wenger select? Will he revert to youth, run with experience or as in recent years a blend of both?
Anyway I was going to write a piece and now that you are here it will be fairly obvious that I did indeed write it, but this is a blog with a difference. Because I decided that my views alone on how Wenger might use the second tier cup competition would not be an interesting or entertaining enough read. So chaps I am delighted to present ‘The Bloggers Guide to Capital One Cup Selection’ with a little help from my friends, some of whom you just might know……..
Arsenal v Coventry 26th September – 4th Round Capital One Cup
Team No.1 - Top features writer for Arsenal Vision, @TheSquidboylike 11
In choosing my preferred lineup, I’m taking elements from our two previous League Cup campaigns. In 2010/11 we changed the way we approached the competition; mixing in more fringe first-teamers with the traditional crop of talented youngsters. From last season’s matches versus Shrewsbury and Manchester City, I’d adopt the 4-4-2 formation. We saw the familiar French Dench connection that is Coquelin and Frimpong flanked by Benayoun and the Ox, behind the dynamic duo of Chamakh and Park.
Accordingly, this would be my team
As you can see, it is less a youth team and more a second-string. I’ve primarily picked members of the first-team squad who I presume won’t have played the most minutes in the league by then, be it due to selection (Santos, Djourou, Coquelin, Ramsey, Gervinho) or injury (Koscielny, Rosicky).
The two most contentious choices are at both ends of the pitch. Firstly, I’ve plumped for Szczesny because I want us to give off the vibe that we are going for it this year. However I’d be content if Fabianski played.
The other is Walcott up-front. I’ve wondered whether Theo’s precarious contract situation can partly be explained by Arsene’s reluctance to play him in his desired position. Well now is the chance, in a relatively low pressure setting and in a pairing as opposed to a lone furrow. And if it isn’t working, switching to our more familiar 4-3-3 is simple with this eleven.
Team No.2 – The North London is Red @thedanielcowan 11
Rather than choose my preferred line-up, I have chosen what I believe will be our line-up based on previous teams and players available. We’ve seen over the past few seasons that Wenger is taking this competition slightly
more seriously by playing a mix of experience and I think we’ll see that continue.
The team I think will play will be:
I think Eisfeld and Gnabry will be the “breakthrough” players this year and Yennaris and Miquel will continue to demonstrate their first-team squadcredentials. I would have expected to see Mannone play in the league cup however his recent run in the first 11 lead me to believe Wenger may give the young Argentine Martinez a run between the sticks.
Yennaris, despite being a midfielder will most likely play right-back as Jenkinson’s fitness is crucial to the first-team at the moment. I expect Santos and Djourou to bring experience to the back line and as Wenger rates him highly and I expect our capable 4th choice centre-back to captain the Capital One Cup team with young Miquel partnering him.
Coquelin will be given the chance to display his ability to play understudy to Arteta. I expect him to perform this role in exemplary fashion and prove that a new “DM” was not required. Eisfeld and Ramsey will take up the advanced midfield roles and I expect us to utilise the experience and quality of Arshavin and hopefully he can recapture his form.
Gnabry will most likely take up the right wing/forward position allowing Theo to play up front. When Theo signed his current contract in 2009 he was told he would get a chance up front and that never happened and I suspect this is contributing to the current contract stalemate. Playing Theo up front may be the “little difference” that Wenger has spoken of and I would assume that his recent bench role is more to do with his “conversion” than being frozen out over contracts as some have suggested. I would love to see us mix it up and play different formations and see Chamakh partnering Theo
up top but I’ve gone for what I think is realistic rather than what I’d like to see.
Team No.3 Chris Howard @SuburbanGooner 11
I’ve gone for a sprinkling of some ‘on the fringes of the first team’ players needing game time, plus some young players who look to have impressed in pre-season. I think Yennaris, Eisfeld and Gnarby will all be given a chance to shine and I wonder if Wenger will see how good they look amongst some of the more seasoned pro’s in the team. I suspect he’ll try to compliment a blend of youth and experience. Arsene has always preferred not rotating in the league if he can help it, so with injuries and suspensions not really kicking in for us as they do, I think he’ll use this game to give players who haven’t played some time, rather than a full-blooded youth team. I’ve chosen to give Mannone the nod because I think Sczscney will be back in the team after the international break and Wenger might still want to reward the Italian for his assured performances for the last couple of league games. I’m also hoping that against lower league opposition, Marouane Chamakh can get a few chances and hopefully take some, because none of us want any player in an Arsenal shirt to fail (at least I don’t think so anyway!). I would like nothing more than to see the Moroccan regaining his confidence, banging in goals and giving us genuine options up front and whilst I doubt that it will be something that will happen, I am hopeful.
Looking at that team, as well as some of the other options that are available, what really strikes me is that we finally have a squad good enough, in my opinion, to mount some good challenges on multiple fronts. In years gone by you would struggle to recognise the League Cup Team, but if the side that steps out on to the Emirates turf resembles the one above, then it shows that we have some real strength in depth. I’m hoping for big things from The Ox and maybe even Gnabry this season. Maybe the Capital One Cup is Serge’s opportunity to pose the manager some selection dilemma questions for the rest of the year.
Team No.4 Mean Lean’s @arsenalvision 11
Fabianski vs Mannone. I still think Fab is No.2 in Wenger’s thinking. And to be honest, I have impressed by Mannone’s athleticism in the EPL this year, but not by his decision making on corners, and his lack of general mastery of the box, etc.
Jenks should play assuming Sagna is back and fit. Djourou is our 4th choice CB, so he needs to play and Miquel is the future so he is a definate for me . Unless, say, Mertesacker isn’t getting first XI time by then.
Coq needs to practice being like Arteta. Frimpong should be getting back from his Cruciate Ligament stuff, though I think he’ll get sent out on loan again. He needs to decide if he is a footballer or an entertainer.
Ramsey/Rosicky are obvious and so too are their under-studies Yennaris and Eisfeld.
It looks like Arshavin doesn’t want to leave London, which is ironic as I remember him bitching about the place when he arrived. Gnabry is my “pet” Academy player. I’m still trying to work out the difference between him and Chambo and I mean that as a huge compliment to both of them.
Chamakh needs time and Walcott thinks he can be a striker. And if we’re short of CFs in the first XI, so are we in the Capital Cup XI. Gervinho is likely to be short of minutes in the first XI based on Chambo’s promotion.
Not very adventurous but our 2nd XI need playing time, while we need to accelerate Miquel, Gnabry, Eisfeld. I sincerely hope to see Yennaris, Gnabry and Eisfeld all get game time from the bench and hope for Yennaris this is in midfield and not at right back.
Team No.6 Phil Wall’s @AngryofN5 11
Here goes then:
Keeper: Whoever’s fit. With Chezzer’s recent form we don’t have a standout keeper at the moment and you don’t need to ‘rest’ a keeper, so the only reason to switch whoever played the last game is to give the reserve a match. Unlikely to make a difference.
Full backs: Tempted to put Diaby in as full-back, as he insists on wearing number 2. However, the strain of so many games recently is sure to kill him shortly anyway, so probably not an option. Santos needs games, and Djourou may as well earn his wage and keep match fit, so I’d go for those two.
Centre backs: The obvious choices are Kos and Squillaci, given that Mertesacker and Verm have played as a pair and may as well be rested as a pair. I wouldn’t have thought Squillaci is a risk against the likes of Coventry, he’s not completely hopeless in my opinion – far better than Stepanovs, for example. But stick both Per and Verm on the bench just in case!
Midfield: If Rosicky is fit he should play to get some match sharpness back. Wouldn’t count on him being back, though, he’s not renowned as a quick healer! When you look at the other options apart from Jack, you realise our squad really needed more of a boost in the summer – there really isn’t a lot to choose from apart from the new boys, all of whom I’d rest. Playing Arteta seems a risk, given his so far pivotal role this season, but options are very limited otherwise. Ramsey as defensive mid? Thinking about it, maybe Vermaelen as DM, with Ramsey and Le Coq. Now that looks an appallingly makeshift midfield, but hey, they’re all supposed to be super players, if not super super.
Strikers: Up front is a little easier: Gervinho, Walcott and Arshavin. Walcott centre forward, the others where the hell they like, it won’t make any difference what you tell them! Really we should start with Chamakh, I just can’t bring myself to say it. Tempting to play Giroud to help him get off the mark, but with luck he’ll have scored a few by then anyway.
So basically, rest everyone we possibly can and play the fewest possible first choices. I don’t count Theo as a first choice.
I’d say this patched up side should easily be good enough to beat anyone outside the Premier League nine times out of ten.
I don’t want my selections to indicate that I don’t care anything for the Capital One Cup, and if we progress to quarter-final and beyond I would progressively strengthen and pick more first teamers with the aim of actually winning a damn trophy of some sort, I just think it’s a bit early to be bothering against a lower league team.
Team No.7 A Cultured Left Foot @Yogis_Warrior 11
It’s a tough team to predict with a busy run of fixtures for the first team. However, there are some whose playing time is limited – others such as Squillaci, I don’t think will feature at all – which is where Walcott, Santos and Djourou come in with their experience, Coquelin and Eastmond to lesser extents. Goalkeeper was perhaps the most difficult choice with my own preference being for Martinez but I suspect Arsene is likely to go with experience, especially with youth further up the pitch.
Team No.8 Steve Martin’s ’It’s all about the Arsenal’ @Harlowgooner 11
In previous Carling Cup campaigns the young lads were given their chance, part of Wengers project youth. However with the advent of the NextGen series, the young lads should get a better standard of games, therefore I would use the Capital One Cup for back up first team players who need games.
Also I feel we need to win a trophy to keep some sections of our support onside and the Capital One Cup can be won. They say winning is habit forming. Injury fear and playing too many games is getting into people heads. Injuries happen, fact of life in football.
Remember this is Coventry at home. I would play 4-4-2.
Vito would be my choice over Fabianski in goal. Vito has done what is asked so far and deserves to stay in. Corporal Jenkinson stays in and continues his fine start to season. Djourou and Santos are an easy choice. Miquel is a star in the making and would play along side Johan.
I’d have Arteta Captain and the man in the middle to show leadership and the vision to open Coventry up. Then I would have Theo causing havoc out wide, leaving Ramsey and Coq to keep it solid.
Up front Arshavin and Chamakh, both in need of confidence boost and hopefully this type of game can give them that. They both need playing time and both need to take this chance should they play.
Gervinho and Giroud just in case on bench.
So there you have it, my eleven to play Coventry City and one that should progress with no problem.
I’ll go for 4-0
Wow! I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did. 8 team selections from 8 t0p Arsenal bloggers and not a single one the same. I am going to invite all the readers to selction your own formation and starting 11 in the comments and a big shout out on the 26th for all those who manage to second guess ‘Le Boss’
Last and probably least you mat want my selection and thoughts. I will make it short as I am aware this blog is enormous. Apologies for that but I hope it kept you interested.
I am in the Squid camp and feel Wenger will as last season test out variations on the 442 theme he hinted he would try during the press conference in the Far East pre-season. I wrote a blog on how this might look in 2012/13 at the time and the Capital One Cup against inferior opposition is the perfect time. I also happen to agree with many of my peers that this is the chance Theo has been waiting for.
I also agree with many of the guys that with the new U21 league and the NextGen, mentioned by Steve Martin that it will be less about youth than it has been in the past.
For me we should revert to the style of 442 we played in the glory years which for me was at its best a 41311. So here is how It could look on the 26th September.
Team No.9 @goonerdave66 11
I am perhaps one of the few who rates Chamakh and have not forgotten the form he showed from August to November 2010. When a team is set upo for him he can and will deliver. Sadly the Arsenal team of last season and the secong half of 2010/11 was set upo for one man, RVP. Chammy has either been asked to play on the wing as Nico B before him or has come on for the last 20 minutes in the RVP role. However MC is not a back to goal player but plays his best football facing and attcking the goal. Suffice to say in the Stoke or Spurs team set up to deliver crosses he would flourish. You do not score 6 goal golas in 6 Champions League Group games, a feat only he can boast if you are a poor player.
In the 442 variation this is more likley to happen and in the last 20 minutes v Norwich in our last home game he was fabulous. This team has our 2 brightest stars Eisfeld and Gnabry either side of a Aaron Ramsey but I see these 3 ahead of Coquelin had fluid and interchangeable and any of the 3 could be delivering from wide during the course of the 90 minutes.
Also when not playing the channels or delivering quality from wide we have the huge bonus of being able to play directly over the top or look for Chamakh flick ons to make best use of Walcott’s pace and finishing.
My only other surprise choice to some might be to have Sagna at right back but for me if the schedule of training is correct he could be ready and this would be a perfect match to ease him back in ahead of the EPL. If not I too would play Yennaris.
So there you have it, the end of a huge blog but I hope an entertaining one with serious food for thought. My special thanks go out to 8 of the best Arsenal bloggers out there and if for any reason you are not checking out their sites and their articles I strongly suggest you do.
All that remain is to invite your thoughts and comments as always but perhaps you might like to leave your own 11 in the comments today.
Until next time thanks for reading.
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