While it is definitely unusual to see Wenger opt to field a strong team in the Capital One Cup at the quarter-final stage, there are a number of injuries that are likely to keep a few first-team players out of the squad. Along with Walcott and the usual crop of crocked players, Olivier Giroud now joins the list of absentees after picking a back injury, while it is likely Sagna will also sit this match out after playing on his troublesome ankle at the weekend.
Looking at right-back it is clear that Jenkinson will fill the spot, but up top there are a couple of options Wenger could utilize. Personally I would like to see Podolski given a go as the spearhead of the front trio, if Wenger is not willing to change the formation. He has voiced his desire to play through the middle, but yet has not had the chance to prove his worth up top with both Giroud and Walcott seemingly ahead of him in the pecking order. It would be a good chance for Wenger to experiment with the German without losing any quality.
In saying this however, while Gervinho is far from a top-class center forward, his movement from wing to wing does allow Podolski to drift infield and utilize his strengths more often. It is clear Podolski’s predatory skills are being under-utilized. He simply needs to be in and around box more often than he currently is, and also needs to be relieved of the excess amount of defensive work he is doing.
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As for the wings, with Walcott out expect Oxlade-Chamberlain to be in the starting line-up with Gervinho on the opposite flank, unless the Ivorian is played through the middle. Wenger also has the option to rest his midfield players. There is a chance he may utilize Rosicky or Ramsey to give Jack Wilshere and/or Santi Cazorla a breather before the upcoming Premier League match against Reading.
One thing that is for sure is that Arsenal must come out of the blocks quickly. While the victory against Reading was pure entertainment, it shouldn’t be forgotten that Arsenal had an absolutely disgraceful performance in the first-half before finally kicking into gear in the second. While currently in a bit of a form slump, hopefully the players take heart from the recent win at West Brom and take it to Bradford right from the first whistle.
on the team news…
The only new player who is not available is Olivier Giroud. He got a kick on his back on Saturday. He has not recovered and he will be out.
on the squad to face Bradford…
We will have an experience squad at Bradford. We have a good recovery time ahead of the game at Reading on Monday. So we can use the players we want to use.
on the players out…
Theo is still out. Along with Diaby, Santos, Koscielny.
on Vito Mannone…
He is back in the squad.
on injuries to the younger players…
Nico Yennaris has a back problem and Ignasi Miguel has a thigh problem.
Jenkinson Mertesacker Vermaelen (c) Gibbs
- The two sides have met on 25 occasions with Arsenal taking 11, while Bradford have taken nine, and five ending in a draw.
- The Bantams are not a side to be taken lightly especially after they topped Wigan on penalties at the DW Stadium in October to secure progression.
- The hosts boast the best home defensive record in League Two, having conceded just six times in 11 matches at Valley Parade and have only lost once in their last 12 fixtures.
- Arsenal currently have the second-best defensive record on the road in the Premier League this season, conceding just six in eight games.
- Mikel Arteta has made an average of 87.1 passes per game this season, the third-most of any player in Europe’s top five leagues behind Manchester United’s Michael Carrick (88.1) and Barcelona’s Xavi (98.8).
- The Gunners have not won the League Cup since 1993, however they made the final two seasons ago and lost in the dying minutes due to a defensive mishap.
Bradford 0 Arsenal 2