Fresh from moving level on points with Manchester City at the top of the Premier League, Arsenal will look to secure a place in the quarterfinals of the Capital One Cup when they travel to take on Championship side Sheffield Wednesday on Tuesday. Arsene Wenger’s side beat Everton 2-1 on Saturday to make it four straight victories in all competitions and complete a memorable week in which they also kept their Champions League hopes alive by beating Bayern Munich.
Less than a month on from a demoralizing home defeat to Olympiakos, Arsenal are positioning themselves for what could be a hugely successful season.
“I think we are stronger mentally this year,” striker Olivier Giroud, who scored Arsenal’s opening goal against Everton, said. “We are all fighting for each other. We have a great togetherness and we want to achieve big things together. We are showing a lot of leadership, we have team meetings and we all want to contribute and bring qualities to the big matches.”
Giroud was back in the starting lineup for the first time in five matches against Everton, having had to share time with Theo Walcott in the striking role this season. It remains to be seen who will occupy the position at Hillsborough on Tuesday, although Wenger is almost certain to make several changes to his team.
The Arsenal manager has regularly used the League Cup to give his less experienced players a run out, which goes some way to explain why it is the only domestic trophy he has failed to win in his 19 years in charge.
Alexis Sánchez is expected to be one of the first-team regulars given a night off, having endured a hectic schedule in recent weeks that Wenger said last week had left him “jaded.” Mesut Özil may also sit out, although Wenger’s midfield options are limited. Aaron Ramsey, Mikel Arteta, Jack Wilshere and Tomas Rosicky are all sidelined through injury.
Mathieu Flamini, who was the match winner when scoring both goals in Arsenal’s victory over Tottenham in the last round of the Capital One Cup, looks set to start. The only confirmed starter, though, is Petr Cech, who Wenger said will “certainly play,” due to the absence through injury of understudy David Ospina.
Per Mertesacker is fit to start, and may take his place in a defense that is likely to include Mathieu Debuchy, Kieran Gibbs and Calum Chambers, all of whom were substitutes on Saturday. There may also be full debuts for 19-year-old forward Alex Iwobi and 17-year-old midfielder Krystian Bielik.
Arsenal will be taking on Sheffield Wednesday for the first time since the Yorkshire side were relegated from the Premier League in 2000. Wednesday currently sit seventh in the Championship on the back of an impressive run of form that has seen them go unbeaten in seven matches. They have also already got the better of Premier League opposition in this season’s Capital One Cup when winning 1-0 at Newcastle United to reach the fourth round for the first time in 14 years.
Sheffield Wednesday’s Portuguese coach Carlos Carvalhal admits their chances of going any further are slim, although insists they won’t be going down easily.
“I believe that probably we will have 10 percent chance to go to the next phase but 10 percent is 10 percent,” he said, according to the club’s official website. “It is not zero. Zero is when you can do nothing, 1 percent you can do something and with 10 percent you have chances. We will grab this 10 percent and try to do our best and maybe we’ll have a little more with the support of our fans and we will fight, of course.”
Carvalhal has plenty of injury concerns for the fixture, with Michael Turner, Alex Lopez, Marco Matias and Modou Sougou definitely ruled out, while Kieren Westwood, Sam Hutchinson and Glenn Loovens are fitness doubts. Goalkeeper Joe Wildsmith, 19, will definitely start for the Owls.
D: Hunt, Lees, Loovens, Pudil
M: Wallace, Lee, Semedo, Bannan
F: Lucas Joao
D: Debuchy, Chambers, Mertesacker, Gibbs
M: Flamini, Bielik
Iwobi, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Campbell
Kickoff Time: 3:45 p.m. EDT
TV channel: beIN Sports En Español
Live stream: beIN Sports Connect