Arsenal head into the first north London derby of the season on the back of a poor run of form, but will a break from the more seriously taken competitions prove the perfect tonic for the Gunners?
Wednesday night’s game will be taken seriously, and rightly so, as we face our north London rivals but there is certainly less pressure and less scrutiny than on Premier League and Champions League fixtures, especially as Arsenal have now been instilled as second favourites to win the league.
The last week has seen us lose games in both of those competitions, but a win at White Hart Lane would surely lift the mood once again.
Francis Coquelin is missing having suffered a knee injury at Chelsea, it remains to be seen how long he’ll be unavailable. Per Mertesacker is back and ready to step in, but Gabriel could play after his three-match ban was withdrawn by the FA on Tuesday.
Santi Cazorla will miss the game through suspension, while Jack Wilshere, Danny Welbeck and Tomas Rosicky remained sidelined by injury.
Arsène Wenger has said that some rotation is likely, but he will opt to use experienced players with just one or two younger players getting an opportunity to impress. The Arsenal manager is expected to use established players who are lacking match fitness, with the game a perfect opportunity to give them competitive minutes.
As a result, expect David Ospina, Mathieu Debuchy, Kieran Gibbs, Mikel Arteta to all start. The likes of Mathieu Flamini and Joel Campbell will also be in with a shout while Alex Iwobi and Krystian Bielik will hope to at least make the bench.
Could Héctor Bellerín or Aaron Ramsey be used as neither travelled to Zagreb a week ago?
Possible XI: Ospina; Debuchy, Mertesacker, Gabriel, Gibbs; Arteta; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Flamini, Ramsey, Campbell; Giroud.
Spurs haven’t enjoyed a particularly positive start to the season – even their last two Premier League games, both wins, have had a touch of fortune about them – but they certainly look less likely to implode than in recent years. That makes me sad.
Mauricio Pochettino is still struggling to implement his system with the players at Tottenham more than a year after his appointment but is starting to sign more players who fit his intense and organised methods. Dele Alli has impressed in midfield and, in the last week, Heung-Min Son has scored three goals in his first two White Hart Lane appearances.
Harry Kane is yet to score in six Premier League games this season, so some would say he is ‘due a goal’. Hopefully that doesn’t come at our expense.
With the League Cup providing their best chance of silverware, Tottenham may not delve into the depth of their squad as much as we do on Wednesday night. Pochettino’s side haven’t conceded in three Premier League games and you’d expect him to take advantage of that stability in a derby game.
Christian Eriksen didn’t start at the weekend, so you would expect him to come into the team.
Possible XI: Lloris; Trippier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose; Dier, Alli; Lamela, Eriksen, Son; Kane.
45 not out
Wednesday night’s north London derby is Arsène Wenger’s 45th.
The last time the two clubs met in the League Cup was also in the third round, and also at White Hart Lane. Wenger fielded a strong side which needed extra-time but eventually came away as 4-1 winners.
The same again would do just nicely and lift spirits perfectly after a disappointing and, in some regards, unlucky last seven days.