When Arsenal take on Southampton in the League Cup fixture on Tuesday, expect quite a few big names to be rested. Player injuries along with a run of important games mean that players like Mertesacker, Koscielny and Ozil have played three games over the past week. This is in addition to the travel fatigue from going to Germany.
Also, with all important league fixtures coming up, including the North London Derby against Tottenham and the fixture against league leaders Chelsea, Arsene Wenger will be looking to rest his best players as much as possible for those crucial ties. Hence, we may see a team against Southampton composed mainly of youth and second string players.
Here is the predicted lineup –
Bellerin Hayden Chambers Gibbs
Campbell Rosicky Podolski
Ospina is sure to start; Szczesny has earned some rest time and the Colombian goalkeeper has yet to feature for Arsenal since his transfer from Nice over the summer. Recently recovered from injury, he is sure to want a game, and this could be his chance to push for a first team spot.
Bellerin was handed his debut against Dortmund, a tough game by all accounts. He seemed solid in defence and has the speed to aid in a quick counter attack. This match will give the promising youngster some more game time.
Isaac Hayden, the Under-21 team captain, is another possibility to feature tomorrow. We have no depth in the centre back position, and thus it is imperative that Wenger explore all his options as early as possible. A good performance by the youngster tomorrow could well see him called up to the first team later on in the season
Chambers is an impressive talent, capable of playing down the centre as well as out wide. With the defensive woes that Arsenal have, we could see him juggling those roles throughout the season. The game tomorrow will give him some game time to shake off the rust after a short layoff.
Gibbs will probably start, due to a lack of options. Monreal is still injured and Gibbs himself needs some playing time.
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Flamini, Arsenal’s tireless workhorse, will also probably feature tomorrow. He has been a true servant and played wherever the manager has asked him to and its about time he was given a start.
Abou Diaby has not played a game in too long. He was an unused substitute last week, but tomorrow could see him take the field again.
Rosicky also had a niggling injury problem that had sidelined him, but he is mostly recovered. If available, he is sure to feature tomorrow to give the likes of Ozil and Wilshere a rest.
Campbell is another possible pick for tomorrow’s game, he needs some match time for Arsenal, something he is unlikely to get in the bigger games. However, Wenger may also choose to go with Santi Cazorla, another player who has not gotten enough playing time.
Podolski – If the German is fully fit, he is sure to feature tomorrow. Not only will he add some class and pace to the attack, getting him back to match fitness as soon as possible will be highly beneficial for Arsenal.
Sanogo – The young striker might get a start tomorrow. With Giroud out injured for quite some time, Welbeck will remain Wenger’s first preference in the League. As such, Sanogo will have to resign himself to cup matches, and he needs a series of impressive performances if he is to convince Wenger to hand him a starting berth. However, he faces competition from Chuba Akpom, the prolific Arsenal Under-21 striker who has been making waves this season.