Monday, December 11, 2023

EFL Cup gives Wenger some nice thinking to do + Arsecast 398

Morning, it’s a very quick one for you today. It’s mostly just a blog to give you fresh Arses and a few things to read as I have to get out of the house very shortly.

I’m heading for New York today ahead of our live Arsecast Extra recording there this Sunday – more details can be found via Arsenal NYC. So, I should point out that due to time differences there’s likely to be some … er … time differences when it comes to the blog posting. Typically it’s first thing in the morning in this time zone, but that’s open to interpretation, shall we say, over the next few days. Still, it’ll keep all the first arsers on their toes.

The draw for the 4th round of the EFL Cup was made last night and our reward for beating Nottingham Forest is a home tie against Reading. They’re now managed by former Man Utd defender Jaap Stam. No doubt everyone remembers the last time we met them in this competition – we went 4-0 down before staging the most ridiculous comeback I think I’ve ever seen, ending up with a 7-5 win after extra-time (watch that craziness again here).

Our team that night was: Martinez, Jenkinson, Djourou, Koscielny, Miquel, Coquelin, Frimpong, Arshavin, Gnabry, Walcott, Chamakh (subs: Jernade Meade, Thomas Eis-eis-baby, Olivier Giroud).

It’s a decent draw because it again provides a chance for some youngsters and some fringe players to get some minutes, and if we can play the way we did against Forest the other night then we could make further progress. I particularly enjoyed the fact that a number of the senior players took their chance at the City Ground this week, giving Arsene Wenger something to think about.

Granit Xhaka can’t do much more to show the manager how good he is. If he doesn’t start this weekend against Chelsea he could use his next substitute appearance to spank one into the top corner from 40 yards. Then 50 yards. I mean, he’s got to giving serious consideration to using him against Chelsea, right? Also, if he’s looking at ‘pairs’ in midfield the Xhakeneny thing seems to work really well. I know we’d have to see them against more testing opposition but it was still a good showing from that duo.

A couple of former players are extolling the virtues of Xhaka and Lucas Perez, and it’ll be interesting to see if the Spaniard has done enough to work his way into contention for this weekend. Probably not from the start, but there were signs from him that he can offer us something different to Alexis and Giroud up front, and maybe that bit of variety would scupper the plans of Antonio Conte who will be trying to figure out exactly what kind of team Wenger is going to pick this weekend. In truth, it’s hard to know, and that’s probably a good thing. Anyway, we’ll have more on that game over the next day or two.

To finish today, there’s some great Arsene Wenger stuff on the Guardian, starting with this fantastic Amy Lawrence piece looking back over 20 years of his time at the club. Coupled with this look at where all the Premier League managers who were in charge when he took over are now, it shows what a remarkable era it has been for him and Arsenal. We have gone from the sublime to the ridiculous at times – perhaps inevitable when one man is in charge for that length of time – but for all the frustration of recent times, and the knowledge that he can’t go on forever, he has been an overwhelmingly positive force for the club.

Right then, time for this week’s Arsecast, which is a day early for reasons I explained above. I look back on what might be a unique week for Arsenal in terms of results and team selections, there’s EFL Cup chat, and I’m joined by Philippe Auclair to discuss the shape of the squad, new boys Xhaka and Lucas’ midweek exploits, we try and figure out what’s going on with Olivier Giroud, look ahead to Chelsea and lots more. There’s some of the usual waffle, and some nonsense and a bit of guff.

There’s also one-day Fantasy Football with Fanduel in which you can win real cash. Sign up with FanDuel use the code ‘ARSEBLOG‘ when you do, you can play for free if you like, but if you want to play for some of the big prizes they’ll refund your entry fee if you lose up to £10. Good luck!

You can subscribe to the Arsecast on iTunes by clicking here. Or if you want to subscribe directly to the feed URL you can do so too (this is a much better way to do it as you don’t experience the delays from iTunes). To download the Arsecast directly, use the link below the player, and if you are a regular listener via iTunes, if you would be so kind as to leave a review/rating that would be greatly appreciated.


Right, that’s that for this morning. We’ll have all the news and what have you as ever over on Arseblog News. I’ll be back with a blog tomorrow but I don’t know what time it will be. Don’t @ me, brah.

Until then.

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