Carabao Cup Quarterfinal

Carabao Cup Quarterfinal

Over the weekend our boys picked up their first Premier League win for three games by overcoming Rafa Benitez and Newcastle United by a slim 1-0 margin. Next up is the second match against West Ham in less than a week, this time in the Carabao Cup Quarterfinal (League Cup).

Arsene Wenger faces a choice of whether to go with a back four, like in the past two games, or back three against David Moyes. Let’s begin with team news.

Carabao Cup Quarterfinal

Team News

Both managers have given their pre-match press conferences before the Carabao Cup Quarterfinal, so we have a decent idea of how each are going to approach the game. We also know a bit more about what the line ups will look like.

For Arsenal, injuries are almost always a worry, but this year has been different, thanks in large part to the rotation policy which has kept players from having to suit up every three days to this point.

However, the Gunners do have at least one key man out, not including Santi Cazorla, in Aaron Ramsey. Les Boss confirmed today that the Welshman is not yet match fit, but is not far away.

“Ramsey was out running (today) but he will not be back in the next ten days. For him, the beginning of January is more likely.”

Meanwhile, Shkodran Mustafi picked up his second knock of the season against Manchester United, and has not featured since. Wenger tells us,

“Shkodran is back again. I will not use him Tuesday but he’s available again.”

That’s some good news for the Liverpool match on Friday, as our defense is always better with the German international present. Theo Walcott, on the other hand, has not featured like we are used to from him, but that will change tomorrow,

“Theo is 100 percent. He will play on Tuesday.”

West Ham

In other parts of London, David Moyes spoke about his squad and his plans leading into the match.

“Andy Carroll could return. He’s had a bad back but he trained today and we will make a call on him tomorrow. Ideally we would have changed one or two players, but we’re a bit short and our priority is the Premier League, but nothing would give me more pleasure than reaching a cup final. Joe Hart will definitely start tomorrow night. He’s been very good around the place and he’s ready to play.”

This all sounds like the normal pre-match banter from a boss, but unlike his last two appointments in England, Moyes has gotten off to a red-hot start for the Hammers. Since taking charge, his team has taken seven points in three games in a stretch of one week, including good games against defending-champions Chelsea as well as Arsenal.

It also seems as though the Scot will name a strong starting XI for the Carabao Cup Quarterfinal. Both Andy Carroll and Joe Hart have plenty of Premier League experience between the two of them. On the other side of the coin, Wenger may have to respond to this with another beefy B squad, much like the one that dominated BATE Borisov in the Europa League.

Wenger’s Words

Here is what our man Arsene said about his rotation plans,

“Some players are a little bit on the edge. I think as well that we have so many quality players who did not start on Saturday, so you cannot say that you prefer to play a player who has played three games in six days to a guy who is at the same level and is completely fresh. The players who will start are basically all international players, so that’s why I think (squad rotation) makes sense. You have as well to show the trust and the confidence that we have in the players who did not start last week.”

So, bad news for the likes of Reiss Nelson and Eddie Nketiah, as it seems as though Arsenal will play with plenty of veterans in the starting XI.

Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock, Josh Dasilva, Eddie Nketiah, Matt Macey and Joao Virginia all trained with the first team today, according to Jeorge Bird. He reports that Chuba Akpom and Jeff Reine-Adelaide also took part, but they both played on Friday for the U-23s, no are unlikely to feature, even from the bench.

Possible Starting XI

Ospina

Debuchy-Chambers-Holding-Dasilva

Coquelin-Elneny-Maitland-Niles

Walcott-Giroud-Welbeck

In goal, it really does have to be David Ospina. Macey has featured this year, but will likely be put on the shelf until the FA Cup begins for the team, in January when they play Nottingham Forest. Nothing against the young man, however against Premier League-quality opposition, Ospina will put in a better display.

In defense, Mathieu Debuchy has done plenty to earn a place in the rotated squad, while the first-choice CBs will more than likely get a rest, as they have played a lot recently. Kolasinac has not appeared at LB since the Southampton game, but I have a feeling that was to give him a break, not to drop him to the B squad.

I think it would be wise to use him against Liverpool, but I’ll get to that later this week as to why.

Josh Dasilva is untested, but without using Kolasinac or Monreal Wenger will have limited options, so either AMN or Dasilva. Since I want to see Maitland-Niles in the center of the park, Dasilva goes in the back line.

I think with the attackers available, a 4-3-3 formation would be suitable, so Coquelin and Elneny as the other two CMs makes sense.

Walcott is a starter, plus Welbeck needs fitness so this is a good opportunity for him. Meanwhile, I think we should try and keep Giroud reasonably happy and playing, no matter what Wenger’s long-term plan is for him. At the same time, the Carabao Cup Quarterfinal would be a great game to win.

Bold Prediction

It is tough to predict a Cup match, as almost inevitably there is a surprise starter, or maybe just a surprise performance from a starter. However, given the fact Wenger is hinting at a strong squad, it would be foolish to pick West Ham.

I think the attacking players are in good form, while there will be enough cover at the back to keep more than a goal or two off the board. Prediction for the Carabao Cup Quarterfinal:

Arsenal 3-1 West Ham

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