Nicklas Bendtner is set to make his first appearance for Arsenal in more than two years with the thinness of the club’s squad being demonstrated for their Capital One Cup third-round tie at West Bromwich Albion. Wenger has named an 18-man squad for the fixture that only includes two players -- Per Mertesacker and Mathieu Flamini -- who started Sunday’s 3-1 win over Stoke City.
The very fact that Bendtner remains at the club is testament to Arsenal's inability to add significantly to the squad during the summer. But Arsene Wenger is talking up the Denmark international’s ability to make a major contribution.
"He had nearly gone somewhere else [in August] and in the end he stayed because it didn't work out and we needed him here," he told Arsenal’s website.
"Now he can convince everybody. We are open-minded, we believe in his qualities. I personally believe in his qualities. It's just down to attitude and fighting [spirit]. When he has that, Nicklas can be an unstoppable striker. He gets his chance. Our job is about that. Take your chance.”
With Theo Walcott set to miss up to a month, having undergone surgery on an abdominal injury, 18-year-old Serge Gnabry is likely to get another chance to prove that he can be a long-term solution. The match at The Hawthorns could witness a first Arsenal start for goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano. The Italy international, on loan from Palermo, looks likely to get the nod over Lukasz Fabianski, who recently suffered a nasal injury in training. Meanwhile, Mikel Arteta could be handed a start after returning from injury as a substitute at the weekend.
West Brom also view their priorities as lying elsewhere, with manager Steve Clarke expected to make a number of changes. However, assistant coach, Kevin Keen believes their squad has the strength in depth to ensure that there will be little, if any, drop off in quality.
“We have a really strong squad at the moment, with only two or three injuries,” he said, according to West Brom’s official website. “We have international players who have been on our bench who need games so I think Steve will be looking to change a few of those.
“Does it weaken our team? I’m not sure it does, because we have some really talented players ready to come in if Steve decides to do that.”
West Brom (probable)
D: Jones, Dawson, Lugano, Popov
M: Dorrans. Yacob, Mulumbu, Brunt
F: Anichebe, Berahino
D: Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Monreal
M: Arteta, Flamini
Gnabry, Miyachi, Akpom
Prediction: With so many changes set to be made by both teams, it is hard to determine just how each side will perform. Arsenal, though, look set to be fairly strong defensively as well as in midfield. Going forward the squad’s real lack of depth is shown with a trio of youngsters set to be selected, as well as the returning Bendtner. The angular striker certainly has talent, but it has now been several years since he really showed it. He will surely know that this represents a major opportunity to get his career back on some kind of track. West Brom should be fairly solid and their squad is stronger than it has been in the past. However, the visitors should just keep their winning run going with a narrow victory.
West Brom 1-2 Arsenal
Match details: The Capital Cup third-round tie will kick-off from The Hawthorns at 3 p.m. ET. A live stream, which you view at your own discretion, will be available here.