Arsenal face Blackpool at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday, looking to get back to winning ways after a frustrating draw against Crystal Palace.
It’s time for the round-of-16 in the League Cup, and Unai Emery’s side will take on lower league opposition once again. After Manchester United and Liverpool went out in the last round, this competition is already looking a bit more enticing, particularly as Manchester City and Spurs have Premier League ties right after playing each other on Monday.
With Chelsea taking on Frank Lampard’s Derby as well, who knocked United out last time around, who knows which of the big-six clubs will still be in the competition by Friday morning?
Emery will also be trying to build some confidence ahead of the Liverpool match this weekend. As a result, we expect Arsenal to start a strong side against Blackpool, whilst also rotating as much as possible.
Let’s have a look at our predicted lineup.
1Goalkeeper and Defence
Petr Cech is back fit after his recent injury, but Bernd Leno started ahead of him over the weekend anyway. As a result, we expect Cech to reclaim the goalkeeping spot against Blackpool.
As for who starts against Liverpool at the weekend, that will probably depend on the 36-year-old’s performance. Emi Martinez can count himself a bit unfortunate to have both goalkeepers ahead of him right now.
Stephan Lichtsteiner will play on the right after Hector Bellerin’s injury at the weekend. Reportedly, the Spaniard will be out for two weeks but Arsenal state he will have a check before the game against Liverpool.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos should return alongside Rob Holding, just as in the clash with Sporting Lisbon last Thursday. Arsenal don’t have enough fit centre-back options to rest both Shkodran Mustafi and Holding at once.
The left-back option similarly picks itself, thanks to injuries. Granit Xhaka will have to continue filling in, as Nacho Monreal and Sead Kolasinac are both seemingly still not ready to return. The signs are they should be back for the weekend.
Emery could look at academy options, particularly as Arsenal are facing a League One side. Tolaji Bola (left-back) and Zech Medley (centre-back) are the two most likely defenders to get a call up if he does. However, as mentioned earlier, we expect him to start an experienced side to ensure victory.
Click ‘Next’ for Midfield, Forwards and our Full Predicted Starting XI