Arsenal host high flying Southampton in the third round of the Capital One cup tonight. With injuries and suspension on the top of Arsene Wenger’s head, expect a whole lot of changes to the playing XI.
Last night, it was confirmed that fullbacks Nacho Monreal and Mathieu Debuchy will remain in sidelines for an extended period leaving the door open to youngsters Hector Bellerin and Isaac Hayden to prove their worth. So let’s take a look at the possible Arsenal line-up that Wenger might deploy against the Saints.
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It was second choice shot stopper Lukasz Fabianski who covered the goal for the cup games last season and from the look of things, it is clear that new signing David Ospina will be deputized in goal for the cup games. The Colombian will make his Arsenal debut at the Emirates tonight.
The Gunners may re-shuffle their entire back line for the game. Mertesacker and Koscielny cannot be risked as there are no back-ups, which leaves Wenger with Calum Chambers and Issac Hayden for the center back positions. Youngster Bellerin, who started against Dortmund should again be called upon for the right back slot.
At left back Wenger has no options other than the injury prone Kieran Gibbs. Arsenal fans will have to keep their fingers crossed for their defenders as they cannot afford any needless injuries.
Probably the only area where Arsenal are well stocked up. Flamini was declared fit for the Villa game, but remained on the bench, so the French man will start this game if he is fit enough alongside either Francis Coquelin or Jack Wilshere. Abou Diaby, Gedion Zelalem and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain offer plenty of options for Wenger to choose from and it seems an impossible job to predict who will be on Wenger’s team sheet.
The No.10 role will be given to Tomas Rosicky, who came on as a sub against Aston Villa last weekend to make his first appearance of the season.
On the wings it should be the likes of Campbell, Lukas Podolski and Chamberlain to fight for the honours. Given Yaya Sanogo’s fitness concerns, Wenger might be tempted to test Joel Campbell up-front. Podolski will take up his customary left flank position, while Chamberlain will start from the right.
Wenger during his pre-match press conference has heaped praises about youngster Chuba Akpom,
“I’m happy that he has developed as a goalscorer, because when he was a younger kid, his problem was finishing. That has gone now. He’s a very good finisher and he has now to learn the tactical side of his game. Then he will be ready, because he is a huge talent.”
If Akpom has managed to attract the manager’s eyes, he might well be involved in the lineup pushing Joel Campbell to the right flank.