Arsenal face Liverpool tonight in the Carling Cup, a competition that Wenger has religiously used to give reserves, youth players and first team squad players a run-out. We have had some success over the years, reaching one final and three semi-finals, so the policy has its merits. I would like Wenger to take the competition a little more seriously and start to use more experienced players the closer got to the final.
With players coming back from injury, tonight will see a stronger starting line up than in the previous round. Fabianski will start in goals whilst all Arsenal fans will be pleased to see Nasri make his first appearance of the season. Swiss international Senderos continues his rehabilitation at the centre of defence and Gibbs will give the left side of the defence some strength and power, whilst Kerrea Gilbert Arsenal’s forgotten right-back is given another chance to show Wenger that his “problems” are past him.
In midfield we will see Ramsey pushing claim for a start, whilst the much talked about Fran Merida has another chance to show the fans and the world that he truly is a genius just waiting to be given his chance. Absent from the game will be Jack Wilshere which is a shame as he is a favourite with the crowd.
Up front Wenger will player Bendtner, hopefully as the main striker and Eduardo out on the left drifting inwards. A notable absentee is Carlos Vela, an enigma if there ever was one, what do we do with him?
Tonight wil lbe an interesting challenge for the team to see how they cope with a fairly experienced Liverpool side.
The media has been castigating Arsene Wenger since he came to England over the lack of English players that have come through the Arsenal ranks during his spell at Arsenal.
In fact during this period both Ashley Cole and Kieran Gibbs have played regularly for Arsenal, in the same period there have been players coming through the ranks at Liverpool, Tottenham or Chelsea and Manchester United have Wes Brown to show for their great English academy.
Anybody who has been following Arsenal and their youth team cannot have failed to notice young Jack Wilshere. Wilshere made eight appearances last season and from what we saw last year we know that this boy will be a phenomenon. It is not just the opinion of the fans, but Fabio Capello was so impressed with Wilshere that he implored Stuart Pearce to pick him for the England under-21 squad. Of course Pearce being the visionary manager that he is said no because Wilshere is not first team regular!
Arsenal fans were disappointed not to see more of Wilshere, in fact towards the end of the season his form had dropped considerably and he was not the star of the Arsenal FA Youth Cup winning team.
Arsene has gone on record to say that he overplayed Wilshere last season and that affected his form. He has made two substitute appearances this season, but he will be primarily restricted to the Carling Cup. Arsene understands that at such a young age, you should not heap added pressure on the player.
Undoubtedly Wilshere has immense talent and we would all love to see him play regularly, but as Wenger pointed out we can see long term burn out if Wilshere is played too often at the moment.
Last night he started in Carling Cup and he treated the pitch as his stage, he performed like a boy with something to prove. He created chances for Arsenal and was always looking for the ball. What you get with Wilshere is a player with great vision but also great drive, despite his diminutive physique he will drive straight past defenders. Too often last night the end result was two defenders scything him down. But Wilshere persevered right to the end.
It is a shame that his appearances outside of the Carling Cup will be rationed this year, more than last year’s, because this is a player that excites the crowd and above all he is one of own.
Tonight sees Arsenal embark upon another Carling Cup campaign when we host West Brom at the Emirates. Injuries to key first team players mean that the likes of Bendtner will not be risked; neither will Rosicky’s come back from injury be risked.
Wenger will choose a young team but included in the starting line will be players with both first-team and international experience. At the back we will see Silvestre, Senderos and Gibbs, hopefully at right-back will be the forgotten player Kerrea Gilbert. In that quartet we have players with ample first team experience.
Midfield will see Ramsey, Wilshere and Traore all play, whilst up front we will have Carlos Vela returning from injury. Some of our promising youngsters like Merida, Gavin Hoyte are on international duty in Egypt participating in the FIFA under-20 World Championships, whilst the two impressive French players, Sunu and Coquelin were recently in Japan representing the France under-19 team.
Carlos Vela’s return will be the highlight of the game as he established himself last season in this competition, but failed to make an impact in the league. With the departure of Adebayor and the continued absence of Nasri and Walcott, Vela’s return from injury is just what Arsene needs. He will give Wenger another option from the bench.
Last season he never really got going, neither was he given the opportunity. It has been agreed that he stays at the club rather than go out on loan to another Premier League team where he would have gained more experience, this means that Wenger intends to use more this season, but Carlos needs to grab any opportunity and prove to everyone that he can perform in the Premier League.
For Vela to show what he can do, he needs to either start games or come when we are not chasing the game as happened to often last season. This is a crucial season for Vela, we cannot keep on waiting for the potential to show its fruit, but Wenger needs to give him his chance.
On 22 September Arsenal host West Bromwich Albion in the Carling Cup. This competition has been used by Wenger as breeding ground for youngsters and for fringe first team players to make a claim for a first team start.
Despite treating the competition with some disdain, Arsenal have reached the final once and the semi-final on three other occasions.
The fans have been crying out for silverware and Wenger needs to re-adjust his strategy for this competition. This is a competition that we should not turn out noses up, this a cup that Wenger should target for us to win. Winning the Carling Cup will lift the club at a vital stage of the season and could act as a catalyst to drive us on to greater things.
Whilst the likes of Merida and Wilshere should feature in this competition, others like Eboue, Gibbs, Djourou, Senderos, Vela, Bendtner, Rosicky, Ramsey, and Walcott should be automatic picks. As we progress, Eduardo, Gallas, Denilson, Nasri and Fabregas should be considered for selection.
The fans would like nothing more than seeing Fabregas lift the three-handled trophy at Wembley. It will give the team a taste of success and can be used as a springboard by the team in pursuit of the FA Cup, the Premier League