By Phil Gregory
West Brom, managed by Roberto Di Matteo (formerly of MK Dons) are Arsenal’s opponents in the Carling Cup on Tuesday.
They will undoubtedly be coming into this match on a wave of confidence, having beaten Middlesborough 5-0 at the Riverside, and holding a one point lead over Newcastle at the top of the Championship.
West Brom were my tip to storm the Championship this season, with their attractive brand of football all the stronger for a season of Premier League football. The defection of Tony Mowbray to Celtic threatened to rock the boat, but their season has started off well, with a draw against Newcastle and then three successive away wins.
WBA are unbeaten this season, though needed extra time to get a 4-3 win at home to Rotherham in the previous round.
Arsenal have been knocked off top spot of the Premier League injury table, but still have eight players out. Denilson is expected to be out for a couple more weeks with a back injury, Almunia is back fit after a chest infection, as is Theo Walcott. Andrei Arshavin and Vela are expected to be short for Tuesday, while long term absentees Djourou, Nasri and Fabianksi are also out.
Other absentees who would otherwise be considered for this game are Lansbury and Emmanuel–Thomas (on loan at Watford and Blackpool respectively) along with Fran Merida and Gavin Hoyte ( away on U20 internationals).
West Brom are missing Marek Cech with a twisted ankle and Ismael Miller (who suffered a recurrence of a cruciate injury in pre-season).
Injury news for West Brom is somewhat lacking at this moment in time, I’ll try and post more in a comment once they release a pre-match statement.
Arsenal predicted team:
Gilbert Silvestre Senderos Gibbs
Barazite Watt Wilshere
Subs: Mannone, Bartley, Deacon, Murphy, Ozyakup, Freeman, Boateng
If it wasn’t for our injuries, Mannone would likely be between the sticks for us, but Szczesny seems likely to get a chance after some very promising displays at reserve level.
Senderos and Silvestre both need game time so are likely to get the nod ahead of promising Reserves skipper Kyle Bartley. Coquelin seems likely to make his Carling Cup bow this season, with Ramsey and the ever-present Randall partnering him in midfield. Barazite is likely to play in attack after an impressive loan spell at Derby last season, with Watt up front and Wilshere completing the attack on the left.
Arsenal’s midfield three should be up to the task of dealing with the Championship leader’s midfield – Ramsey has acquitted himself well at the Emirates in bigger competitions than the Carling Cup, Randall could almost be called experienced at this level and Coquelin made a name for himself with some stellar performances for the second string last season. Expect Ramsey and Coquelin in particular to shine.
Jack Wilshere will hope a good performance will put him into the reckoning for more Premier League action given the injuries to players ahead of him in the pecking order. Much will be expected of Kieran Gibbs after his breakthrough season last year as well as being one of the top performers in last year’s Carling Cup.
West Brom’s Marek Cech is a big loss for them, though Czech Roman Bednar’s pace may trouble the cumbersome pairing of Senderos and Silvestre. Graham Dorrans, the Scottish midfielder, has been in good form and tops the Championship assist charts this season.
Tricky one to call. I’d normally confidently back our young Guns against anyone at home, but we are missing some big players in Lansbury and Merida. The defence should be up the task of keeping them out, especially our experienced central defence partnership.
The midfield too has all the tools to dominate the middle of the park, with Ramsey’s eye for a pass well allied to Coquelin’s all-action physical style. Jack Wilshere can be relied on to light up the left hand flank, though we must take into account West Brom’s excellent form this season. If they put out a first team, it’ll be tight, 1-0 or 2-1 to the Arsenal. If they rest players with an eye on the league we should coast it 3-0.
As ever, comments below and I’ll do my best to reply.
See you on Friday for the Fulham preview!
Editor’s note: my sincere apologies to Phil – this post appeared initially without his name on. Entirely my error – Tony
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