After a disappointing result against Blackburn at the weekend, the hope is that the Carling Cup will offer a welcome distraction from the travails of the Premier League. Certainly it will be a youthful side put out by Arsenal, but there are a few fringe players in need of game time that will offer experience.
Realistically, trying to pick a team for this game is going to be tricky, as there’s an array of options, even though the eighteen man squad has been announced. Clearly Fabianski, as our second choice keeper, will get some game time to ensure he’s match ready should Szcznesy succumb to an injury. In the back four Djourou could do with getting minutes on the pitch, perhaps partnering Ignasi Miquel, who played against Liverpool earlier in the season. Gibbs is likely to start after Santos played at Blackburn, with Jenkinson at right back.
Further forward it seems likely to be a young midfield, with the likes of Coquelin, Aneke and Frimpong involved. Ozkayup could also realistically start the game, but I’m expecting Frimpong and Coquelin to get starts as the pair have already been involved in the first team this season, with Chuks Aneke further forward. The latter is a young player who has had a lot of hype around him as he developed with the club, almost to the same degree as Wilshere as he was coming up through the ranks. Should Chuks establish himself and develop as quickly as Jack, well, we’ll be set in midfield for a good while!
Up front we’ll see a mixture of youth and experience. Park is certain to make his debut, whilst Chamakh looked dangerous against Blackburn once he came on and will be looking to build momentum. Out on the right the hugely promising Chamberlain should get game time too.
That gives us a line-up of something like the below, though for a much-changed side the formation may well be a little different to the usual 433.
Jenkinson Djourou Miquel Gibbs
Chamberlain Chamakh Park
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With substitutes: Benayoun, Boateng, Martinez, Ryo, Yennaris, Ozyakup and Watt.
Quite clearly, this game isn’t one that is going to define our season but a win would bring some positivity around the side. While there is an element of nervousness and anxiety after a poor start to the season from the first eleven, such things shouldn’t afflict the collection of youth and fringe players that we have for this game. Indeed this game will be seen as a key opportunity for the likes of Gibbs, Chamberlain and Park to push for a starting berth.
Whilst Shrewsbury have been flying high in League Two this season the above side should have more than enough to ensure a fairly comfortable evening for the home fans. Hopefully we’ll see a few goals and an electrifying display from one of the youngsters, but Shrewsbury shouldn’t be underestimated. I’ll go for a fairly bland 3-0 to the Arsenal.