We’re back in the saddle tonight with EFL Cup action. The last time we played Reading in this competition it produced one of the most incredible games I think I’ve ever seen. We were 4-0 down within 37 minutes. In the end we won 7-5, Marouane Chamakh scoring a glorious chip to seal the game. If that doesn’t sum up how mental it was, nothing does.
It’s hard to imagine there’ll be anything quite that crazy tonight, but I guess we’ll see in due course. It’s a game which hands some playing time to some of those who have been spending time on the bench, along with a couple of youngsters who can only reasonably expect to feature in this competition at the moment.
The manager has given away a fair chunk of his side, saying that Olivier Giroud could come back into the squad, and then:
It will be a similar squad to against Nottingham Forest. We will have Gabriel, Holding, Jenkinson will be back and will play. Jeff Reine-Adelaide will play, otherwise I think Iwobi, Lucas, Oxlade-Chamberlain will also play. Gibbs – who captained the team at Forest – will do it again on Tuesday.
So, we’re probably looking at a starting XI of: Martinez, Jenkinson, Holding, Gabriel, Gibbs, Elneny, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Iwobi, The Jeff, Lucas, Giroud.
Maybe he might see Giroud’s return coming from the bench, giving him a run out in the second half rather than a start, which leaves room for another youngster perhaps to get the nod, but I reckon it’ll be more or less that. It’s an interesting blend of players. An opportunity for one or two to put some pressure on those ahead of them in the pecking order right now, for others, like Carl Jenkinson and Giroud, it’s the start of the comeback trail to varying degrees.
I can’t say I know a lot about Reading this season but they currently lie 8th in the Championship under manager Jaap Stam, and come into this game after a run of pretty patchy form which has seen them win just one of their last five games – a 1-0 win over Rotherham last weekend. We should be clear favourites but cup football, as we know, can always throw up a surprise or two.
It’s not on TV so it’s one of those for which we’ll have to go stream hunting close to kick off. Any live blogging etc will be dependent on that, so stay tuned to @arseblog on Twitter for updates in that regard.
Meanwhile, the AGM took place yesterday and by all accounts it was a much more relaxed affair that some of the ones from recent years. The team’s performance coupled with the money spent during the summer mean that those in attendance were far less crotchety than they might have been otherwise.
Arsene Wenger spoke and quipped:
It’s 20 years, I’m sorry! I would like to thank you for your consistent support and to apologise for every minute I make you suffer in these 20 years. But you don’t look too bad for people who have suffered for 20 years.
I am sorry for the boy who was born 20 years ago and only known one manager. I would reassure him that when he will be 40 he will know a few more.
Questions about the manager’s future and the club’s intentions were batted away by Sir Chips who said, “Balderdash, who let you ruffians in here?! I hope you took your shoes off.’ He actually said something about talking about it at an ‘appropriate’ time, which is fair enough, but depending on what Wenger wants to do, that time could pretty soon. We’ll see.
Ivan Gazidis got up then and did a presentation called ‘We are very good at things’ which outlined all the things that we’re very good at, and that was about it really. After years of this event causing all kinds of headlines, I think we might be all headlined out. Which is no bad thing really, when you think about it.
For a full look of what went down though, you can read Tim Stillman’s full report here.
Not a lot else happening, other than the manager saying that even if we’d bought Shkodran Mustafi ahead of the Liverpool game he wouldn’t have been able to play due to injury. Still, better late than never or something, and having Hank Scorpio alongside early Bart Simpson at centre-half has embiggened our defence in a most cromulent way.
Some extra reading this morning as the Tactics Column looks back at the 0-0 with Boro, while for your aural delectation there’s yesterday’s Arsecast Extra featuring some hideous face-swaps, Arsene Wenger as an MMA fighter, and the football stuff too. You know, that game that distracts us from the nonsense every three or four days.
Catch you later on for the match, hopefully.