Great news for the second leg of our cup double-header
against Liverpool tonight - dynamic midfielder Abou Diaby
returns to the squad for the first time since suffering a
fractured/dislocated ankle against
Sunderland in May.|
We've not been having any trouble in the central midfield
positions, thanks to the form and availability of Cesc Fabregas,
Gilberto, and Mathieu Flamini (not to mention Tomas Rosicky
who has been particularly good when used in a free/central attacking
midfield role like against Liverpool in the FA Cup
tie on Saturday). But, without Diaby, we lose a couple of these
for a match and we'll be relying on Alexandre Song. So far, Diaby's
potential looks a hundred times that of the young Cameroonian, so
let's hope he gets back up to speed quickly and safely. Perhaps
he'll partner Cesc tonight, the Spaniard having had a rest on Saturday
Emmanuel Adebayor is progressing well with his injury and
could be back in time for the Blackburn game on Saturday, but
not tonight. Up front we're expecting to see Jeremie Aliadiere
tonight, maybe with Theo Walcott or one of Thierry Henry and
Robin van Persie.
William Gallas is also on the verge of a return, but not tonight,
and Lauren has a 'slight toe injury' that keeps him out too.
With Emmanuel Eboue limping off on Saturday, it's likely that
Justin Hoyte will play again tonight to give Eboue time to
get fully fit for the more important Premiership game on Saturday.
Freddie Ljungberg is the only real injury, needing a week or more
after the Blackburn game before his return. But if the
rumours are right, both he and Lauren could be on the way out in
the transfer window. We hope not.
The BBC claim that
our squad for tonight is Almunia, Eboue, Poom, Lehmann, Hoyte, Toure, Senderos, Clichy, Hleb, Silva,
Flamini, Rosicky, Henry, Walcott, Van Persie, Baptista, Djourou, Diaby, Fabregas.
That seems a remarkably strong Arsenal squad for a League Cup tie. Surely
Aliadiere and Denilson should be in there for starters. If they're right about
Aliadiere's absence then Julio Baptista will surely start. But there are
other significant youngsters players missing from that list
such as Song, Fran_Merida, Armand Traore, and midfielder
Mark Randall who featured in previous rounds against West Brom and Everton.
This is the Reserve team cup, after all.
Maybe not for the scousers though. Rafa Benitez has admitted that,
following Saturday's FA Cup defeat, he may revise his selection and
take this competition a bit more seriously than he was going to.
Not in goal, though, where he says he's sticking to his promise to
Jerzy Dudek of a place in his domestic cup teams for the season.
Craig Bellamy, strangely absent on Saturday, should return up front.
And Sami Hyypia and Fabio Aurelio are expected to start.
And there you have it. The actual 16 man squad is named and includes
Denilson, Song, Aliadiere, Randall, and Traore. Also in it are Matthew Connolly and Henri_Lansbury (a new one to me). The only regular first-teamers in the squad are Cesc, Toure, Djourou, Baptista, Hoyte and Walcott. There's a good chance they'll all start, although Connolly must have a chance at centre back. Hoyte will presumably be at right back with Traore coming in for Gael Clichy on the left.