Wigan preview, Carlos Faila + Leopold returns

Still cold and snowy here in Dublin and it seems as if the IMF has sent the UK some of the cold weather too as thanks for the billions you’ve contributed to our bailout. Hopefully it won’t affect the football later on – keep an eye on my Twitter as I’ll update there as soon as I see someone else give out the relevant info somewhere else.

If the game goes go ahead it looks as if we’re going to have a fairly strong attack. The boss says that Walcott and Bendtner will play and Robin van Persie looks as if he’ll be in action too:

Robin will certainly play, yes, but I haven’t decided my starting line-up yet. Theo Walcott and Nicklas Bendtner will be involved but I don’t want to give the team out. The only thing I can promise is that we will take the game seriously.

Fitness permitting I think we’d be mad not to start with all three. They need games, that’s for sure. Theo’s great start to the season was derailed by injury and he’s been unable to force his way back into the team due to the form of Samir Nasri. Bendtner and van Persie have spent a fair amount of time out and just need playing time now. How he goes about it remains to be seen. He could play a traditional 4-4-2 with van Persie and Bendtner up front and Theo on the right of midfield, or fiddle around with the forward three in the regular set up.

Theo could easily go left, van Persie plays on the right of the three for Holland regularly and Bendtner could be the middle man, although it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he used the latter two the other way around. It might be the Carling Cup but all three of them have points to prove tonight for different reasons so let’s hope we see them do that.

At the back Sebastian Squillaci is out with a little knee problem, meaning Koscielny and Djourou will play at centre-half, while Emmanuel Eboue has made a ‘miraculous’ recovery from his knee injury and will be involved. I have to say I’m slightly suspicious that an injury that might have seen him out for two months is better within a week but I suppose it’s welcome news and the Ivorian should start at right back.

Wojscez®© in goal, Gibbs at left back, Denilson, Rosicky and Wilshere in midfield should make up the rest of the team. I know he’s used Craig Eastmond in this competition this season but it’s a quarter-final and I still think the youngster is a bit out of his depth at this moment in time. I’d have strength on the bench too. This is a competition we should take seriously and if we need to call on the quality of Nasri, Arshavin etc then we should be able to do that. A fluttering of youth too, I suspect JET will get a place on the bench along with Carlos Vela.

We’ve got some history with Wigan in this competition. In the final season at Highbury they scored a gammy goal late on to knock us out in the semi-final and then went on to get spanked by United in the final. It should have been us that got spanked in the final, so we owe them one tonight. On their day they’re a decent enough team so there can be no taking this lightly.

Let’s put November to bed with a good home win and good performance. We need to start making the Grove a difficult place for teams to come again and with a place in a semi-final up for grabs there should be no lack of motivation or spirit this evening. Fingers crossed it goes ahead.

In other news it’s interesting to note the brother of Carlos Vela speak at the end of the Guardian piece linked above. He says:

He just wants the chance to show what he can do for Arsenal and maybe if that doesn’t happen, he will think about his future. Important clubs are interested in his services. Now he has a European passport, it could open the market for him.

We’ve been used like a Peruvian who marries an Irishman she met in a chat room just so she can get a European passport! In seriousness though, his future looks quite uncertain. If you need a guy to come on and score a nice goal when the team are already cruising then Carlos is your man. If you need to bring on a player to help win or save a game when the chips are down then he’s about the last person you’d think of.

He’s barely been involved in recent weeks and when he is he hardly looks as if he’s busting a gut to show what he can do. Unless this is him showing what he’s willing to do so he can get a move somewhere warmer. I have to say I’d be inclined to say ‘Adios and don’t let the enchiladas hit you on the way out’ but he’d probably just eat the enchiladas. All we can judge him on are his performances and on that basis they just haven’t been good enough to suggest he’s got a real future at Arsenal.

Aaron Ramsey played about half an hour for Nottingham Forest last night as they were beaten 1-0 by Leicester City. I flicked over and watched bits of it between laughing my hole off at Mourinho and he looked ok, somewhat smaller than I remember and a player in need of games. Despite my initial fears I don’t suppose it will do him any harm at all to get match fit before returning to us in January.

And finally for today, I sent out the call, went to the top of a tall building and illuminated the Arseblog equivalent of the bat symbol (instead of a bat it’s an image of a pregnant lemur breast feeding an adoptive kitten) and lo and behold Leopold answered.

He’s been answering some readers emails as his sack was throbbing. He’d be happy to answer more questions too, his email address is the bottom of the new piece on the real ANR.

So that’s that. All going well and the snow not affecting tonight’s match I’ll be doing a live blog of the game. Check back in later on for a new post giving you details of that.

Till then.

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