League Cup a good gauge for Arteta and Arsenal
This was supposed to be a disappointing season for Arsenal; the first in over two decades without European football after the dismal performance last season which saw them end trophyless and eighth.
While a place in the continental competitions is worth always fighting for, and the monetary returns offer good motivation, Arsenal can make good use of time off it. It is clear the team needed a restructuring after last season’s lows and while it left all disappointed, they can use this predicament to their advantage.
The League Cup is all the Gunners can look forward to in midweek, rather than the Europa League which they have been in for a better part of the last five seasons. Arsenal did manage to get to the latter stages of the Europa League in recent seasons but that can only be distant memory now.
Being out of it offers an opportunity for players to recover and restructure for the best performances in the Premier League. Meanwhile the League Cup offers a good platform for the fringe players to not only get play time, but offer the manager an alternative view from his first team players.
The first team has done well in the earlier matches and though he has featured some of his starters in the earlier League Cup matches, it is expected that this will change when they host Leeds United in the round of 16.
Skipper Pierre Emerick Aubameyang and Alexander Lacazette both limped off the impressive win over Aston Villa and it is a no-brainer that they will be left out of this game. Aaron Ramsdale has also put in a good shift for his new employers and a deserved rest will be handed to him too.
Despite the big name absentees, the sports predictions on SportyTrader have Arsenal as the favorites to win this game and it could easily pass, as they haven’t lost to Leeds United in their last eight meetings, while they take to this game the better run, having won three of their last five matches.
Bernd Leno, who has dropped down the pecking order since Ramsdale’s arrival, is set for some game time here, while Brazilian prodigy Gabriel Martinelli will also benefit from the first choice forwards being out of action. Eddie Nketiah, who scored in the last round will also be a beneficiary here.
In defence, Arteta could have the chance to test a new partnership second to Ben White and Gabriel Magalhaes. He has Pablo Mari and Rob Holding fit and this could be a good opportunity for them, while on the flanks, with Kieran Tierney injured, Nuno Tavares, who impressed against Villa will have more time to build his confidence. On the other defensive flank, Arteta has options with Calum Chambers and Cedric Soares so the tried and tested Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe should not be in line here.
Perhaps the biggest beneficiary of these changes will be Salah-Eddine Oulad, the Dutch youngster, who has been trending for his skills. He is yet to make a first team appearance but his abilities have been well showcased for the U23s and Arteta could seize this moment to give him some game time.