Unfamiliar faces for the League Cup, that is.|
As anticipated, Arsenal have named a stronger than usual squad for the League Cup tie at Highbury tonight, where we need to overturn a 1-0 deficit from the first leg.
Keeper Manuel Almunia should get the nod ahead of new permanent signing Mart Poom. Our other keeper Jens Lehmann is the only regular first-teamer that's an unenforced absentee.
In defence we have Kerrea Gilbert and Lauren as full-backs, and 2 of Sol Campbell, Philippe Senderos, and
Johan Djourou in the middle.
In midfield it's any
4 from Mathieu Flamini, Alexander Hleb,
Gilberto, Robert Pires, and new signing Abou Diaby, with the additional possibility of Jose Antonio Reyes on the left wing. Cesc Fabregas starts his 3 match ban for the sending-off on Saturday. Up front there's 2 of Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp,
Robin van Persie, and Reyes.
I thought it'd be a strong squad, but this is a big surprise. A lot of the players who have taken us this far are left out completely. I was particularly suprised to see neither Quincy nor Sebastian Larsson, who linked up well when played together for a while against Cardiff in the FA Cup, but Arturo Lupoli, Fabrice Muamba, and Alexandre Song must also feel somewhat disappointed.
If Thierry Henry plays, it'll be his first League Cup tie for 6 years. It'd be nice to see Abou Diaby get his first start for the club, but Theo Walcott is cup-tied and Emmanuel Adebayor is with Togo in Egypt (at the time of writing, at least).
Pascal Cygan is still injured though probably not for long, and Ashley Cole could be back from his thigh strain in time for the FA Cup tie against Bolton.
Wigan have signed winger Reto Ziegler on loan from Tottenham for the rest of the season, and he eligible to play tonight. Whether he'll be ready or not is another question as he's only just returned to the country having previously been on loan in Hamburg. Their other loan signing, Liverpool's Neil Mellor, is also eligible and likely to play. But Paul Jewell has a few injury problems with Arjan de Zeeuw, Lee McCulloch, David Connolly, Emerson Thome, Ryan Taylor, Steve McMillan and Ryan Taylor all thought to be out. David Thompson is cup-tied.