Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Oh yeah, the League Cup is a thing …

It’s Carabao Cup action for the first time this season as we take on Brighton at the Emirates.

Given how well this season has gone so far in Premier League terms, this competition feels less relevant and important than ever. However, I think that’s very much a fan outlook on this. Mikel Arteta is building a culture at this club where every game is important, every game matters, and every game should be won. Therefore, I think he will approach this with a seriousness that, perhaps, many of us don’t really feel.

There’s plenty of scope for rotation, but given that we’re facing Premier League opposition who will probably have more invested in a cup run that we might, this is not going to be – as James quipped on the Arsecast Extra – “Ethan Nwaneri and his school friends.”

Speaking to the official site, the manager said:

“We’re going to pick a very competitive team. I think everyone deserves chances, and we’ll make some changes with judgement in relation to the load of the players, but we’ll play to win.

“The ones that haven’t played want to have their chance, and feel that they are contributing to the team. The positive thing is that everybody has played games and everyone has been important.

“We have two games to go, and the focus has to be there because we know that afterwards we have a big break.”

Still, ‘very competitive’ could mean something like: Turner, Cedric, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney, Elneny, Lokonga, Vieira, Nelson, Marquinhos, Nketiah.

That’s a side with plenty of full internationals, but with enough rotation to keep lots of regulars fresh for Wolves. My suspicion is we might see one or two more ‘first team’ players for this one, but exactly who I’m not sure.

When you’re trying instill a culture of success, you don’t get to pick and choose which games you turn up for. Players can’t approach a fixture thinking ‘Ah, this one doesn’t really matter.’ We’ve seen how seriously Man City have taken this competition down the years, and while I think they’ve generally had a squad which is much deeper and better able to rotate – particularly in the early stages – I think Arteta sees this as a chance to win a trophy and as such he’ll compartmentalise this game in that context.

As for the outcome this evening, it’s a weird one. I can never, ever hope for Arsenal to lose. I always want us to win, but there are some games which are more painful to lose than others. This is quite a way down the pain scale, but as I said above, I think that’s very much a fan’s outlook.

In comparison to other fixtures this season, this feels kinda stress free, so that might be reflected in our performance this season. The Europa League group stage didn’t set the world on fire or anything like that, but surely some of these guys will be eager to impress – even if we’re on the cusp of a break for the World Cup. It won’t be a walk in the park either, Brighton have been a fun team to watch this season (especially when they’re taking points off the likes of Liverpool and Chelsea), so this could be an entertaining cup tie.

Let’s see what happens!

As ever, we’ll have live blog coverage for you, and all the post-game stuff on Arseblog News.

For some extra reading this morning, Lewis takes a look at the role of Oleksandr Zinchenko against Chelsea in a new tactics column, and there’s a brand new Arsenal Women Arsecast available here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Right, that’s it, catch you later for the game.

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