Arsenal host League One side, Doncaster Rovers, on Wednesday night in their first 2017/18 League Cup match knowing that anything but a comfortable win is unacceptable.
The Gunners welcome newly promoted Doncaster mid-week in their 7:45pm
Carling Capital One Carabao Cup kick-off.
Although Arsenal put in a convincing display against the current title-holders on Sunday during a 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge, it’s likely that Arsene Wenger will field a very different starting XI to the one we saw against Chelsea.
The Frenchman’s tradition of playing a mixture of the lesser-played senior stars and youngsters will most likely continue, which will give Doncaster a boost considering they’ll probably throw everything but the kitchen sink at Arsenal. They have to give something to their fans, who will have traveled over 160 miles to watch their team in action.
However, I reckon our Young Guns will do just fine and I for one am pretty excited about potentially getting to see 17-year-old Reiss Nelson star for a full 90 minutes.
Donny haven’t faced the Gunners since 21 December 2005. The League Cup match ended 2-2, with Arsenal clinching it on penalties (3-1). Before that, they hadn’t played since 1987.
Arsenal have only ever lost to the Rovers once. In 1902. Therefore, this fixture is perfectly set up for Wenger’s team to slip on a banana skin. We know how stagnant the Gunners can look at home and Darren Ferguson is bound to fancy his chances. Especially if he’s been getting tips from his father.
Arsenal are definitely looking far more competent since the Liverpool defeat. However, it’s our inconsistency, which we’ve demonstrated perfectly during these opening weeks, that has failed us in the past.
Personally, I can’t see anything but a comfortable win for Arsenal with our youngsters smashing it but I’ve been wrong in the past and the Gunners do love to succumb to the ‘magic’ of the cup. We’re quite selfless like that.
Arsenal are without Santi Cazorla, Francis Coquelin, Danny Welbeck, Mesut Ozil and Mathieu Debuchy.
Hector Bellerin, Sead Kolasinac and Alexandre Lacazette also appear to be getting a rest as they allegedly weren’t in training on Tuesday.
Predicted XI: Ospina; Chambers, Mertesacker, Holding; Nelson, Elneny, Wilshere, Maitland-Niles; Walcott, Iwobi, Giroud.
Donny were promoted from League Two last season after finishing third; they’d only been relegated in 2015/16.
So far this term Ferguson’s side have only managed to register one league win and most recently lost 1-0 to Scunthorpe United.
Of course, they’ve done pretty well in the Carabao Cup, beating Bradford City (3-2), Hull (2-0) and Grimsby Town (1-1; 4-3 on penalties) to get to this point. So they’ve probably got at least some confidence propelling them forward.
However, while I imagine that they’ll be looking for a boost (and what better way than a win away to Arsenal?), it’s hard to see them actually managing a victory.
I mean, we may give them an early pity goal during their first attack of the match but we’ll come back…
Donny have five players sidelined: Danny Andrew (LB), Mathieu Baudry (CB), Alex Kiwomya (RW), Luke McCullough (DM) and Ross Etheridge (GK).
Predicted Donny XI (4-4-2): Lawlor; Blair, Wright, Butler, Mason; Whiteman, Kongolo, Rowe, Coppinger; May, Marquis.
Where to watch
The match won’t be shown live on British TV. However, highlights will appear on Channel 5 at 11:35pm.
Live audio will be available on Arsenal.com.
Alternatively, if you’re not in the UK, you can find out where you can watch it from LiveOnSat.com.