Arsene Wenger has said that he will make changes to his Arsenal side when they begin their Capital One Cup campaign on Wednesday, but that a trip to local rivals Tottenham means that a strong lineup will be selected at White Hart Lane. The Arsenal manager has over the years consistently used the League Cup -- England’s secondary cup competition -- to give an opportunity to the club’s emerging young players. But the competitive nature of a north London derby means that he will stick to experience for the third-round clash.
“It will affect it because at the moment the youth-team players, many of whom are ready to play for us, are away on loan,” he told Arsenal’s official website. “The next players who have the talent are not completely ready to play at that level. With the difficulty of the opponent as well, you do not want to throw them into a game where they look out of place.
“There are no fringe players [here], there is only a first-team squad. It is an opportunity for Arsenal to win an important game and for the players who play for the club to defend our club and qualify. Apart from that, we played with the team in Zagreb and we didn’t win, so we want to come back now and win our cup games because that’s vital for us.”
Arsenal come into the game on the back of successive defeats. After a 2-1 reversal at Dinamo Zagreb, when Wenger also rotated his starting XI, Arsenal went down 2-0 to Chelsea on Saturday as both Gabriel and Santi Cazorla were sent off. While Cazorla will be suspended for the trip to White Hart Lane, Gabriel is available to play after his red card was overturned on Tuesday. Per Mertesacker is also in contention after recovering from a virus, but Francis Coquelin will be missing with a knee injury. Meanwhile, Wenger has confirmed that one youngster will be involved in some capacity -- 19-year-old forward Alex Iwobi.
Tottenham are likely to field a strong side, as they did in last season’s competition when they went all the way to the final before being defeated by Chelsea. Even so, manager Mauricio Pochettino will have to do without injured quartet Ryan Mason, Mousa Dembele, Nabil Bentaleb and Alex Pritchard.
It is a team that should be coming into the fixture with confidence, however. After an uninspiring start to the season, Spurs have won their last three matches in all competitions. The most recent two -- against Azerbaijani side Qarabag in the Europa League and Crystal Palace in the Premier League -- have been inspired by the goals of big summer signing Son Heung-min.
And Pochettino will be hoping that the South Korean can continue that form in a matchup that he is relishing.
“For me, it was always important to play against your rivals in the derby matches,” he said, according to Tottenham’s official website. “To I always enjoyed playing this type of game. It’s always a special feeling.
"Derbies are special. It’s a different game. Our supporters have that expectation to win. It’s impossible to guess what will happen but one thing is for sure, we need to play at 100 percent. We are ready and our motivation is big to play this game on Wednesday.”
Kickoff time: 2:45 p.m. EDT
TV channel: beIN Sports
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