21 September 2015

Ahh, let the babies have their bottles and toddle off...

After Saturday's travesty in which various crimes against humanity went unpunished, having a chance to smash our rivals right in the mouth could be just what the doctor ordered. However, even if we've drawn Tottenham in the third round of the League Cup, it's hard to feel like we'll actually get much satisfaction from it, or that the satisfaction is worth the effort. The Spuds just don't seem to inspire the same quixotic competition as in previous seasons. Watching them wriggle and squirm offers some amusement, but it wears pretty quickly. Far better to treat it like we'd treat any early round fixture: send out a mix of first-teamers and Academy players and let the chips fall where they may. Should we win, we shrug our shoulders and move on. Should we lose, we let the scum celebrate, shrug our shoudlers, and move on anyway.

Let's be honest with ourselves. Losing to Tottenham is never enjoyable, but this is one instance when I'm willing to let it slide. A third-round League Cup fixture falls several notches short of winning the Community Shield, but if Tottenham want to pin their hopes on winning this one (it's probably their best bet at silverware this season...), more power to 'em. We have a Prem campaign to resurrect, not to mention a Champions League one, and there's still the FA Cup to defend.

With Cazorla and Gabriel suspended, and Coquelin joining Wilshere, Welbeck, and Rosický among the injured, we might as well bed in some youngsters. Those I'd most like to see, namely Hayden, Akpom, Zelalem, Crowley, Toral, Silva, and Maitland-Niles, are all loaned out at the moment. It might be interesting to dig just a bit deeper to give someone like Julio Pleguezuelo, who is versatile enough to play across the back line, a chance. With Koscielny or Mertesacker one side of him and Debuchy the other, he should have enough support to feel comfortable. He currently captains the u21s and has impressed thus far. Others who are getting closer to at least training with the first team, if not playing, include Iwobi (F), Bielik (DM), Kamara (DM), and Macey (GK).

With that Cazorla-Coquelin pivot out of commision, could Kamara or Bielik be a more-intriguing option than bringing in Flamini or Arteta? Kamara excites me, and he could rise to the occasion, shielding the back four while Ramsey reprises his preferred box-to-box role. Finding room for one more, Alex Iwobi could start through the middle, as the converted winger scored nine goals in the u21s' last nine games of the 2014-15 season (including a hat-trick against Stoke, suggesting he knows what to do against despised rivals...). That should about do it, at least to start. Surround them with a few more-experienced players, roll the dice, and see what comes up.

Back to the Prem for a moment, we have to admit that Spurs are in a boat similar to ours. Five goals scored and nine points taken (to our ten), their talismanic striker has failed to score a single goal. However, we have bigger fish to fry than this one, and if they want to make a meal out of this, who are we to stop them? If they do find a way to win, they can thump their chests and bleat all they want about what color North London is, but when the dust settles, the fundamental truth will remain unchanged.

LAST THREE
  • Tottenham 2-1 Arsenal (07.02.2015)
  • Arsenal 1-1 Tottenham (27.09.2014)
  • Tottenham 0-1 Arsenal (16.03.2014)
FACTFILE
  • The last time the two clubs met in the League Cup, it was also the third round--a 1-4 win to Arsenal.
  • We've met each other in the League Cup eight times, with Arsenal winning four, losing two, and drawing two.
  • Most if not all Spuds are secretly Gooners.
INJURIES
  • Coquelin joining Wilshere, Welbeck, and Rosický are all injured; Cazorla and Gabriel are serving bans.
POSSIBLE STARTING XI
  • Ospina, Gibbs, Koscielny, Pleguezuelo, Debuchy; Kamara, Ramsey; Campbell, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott; Iwobi.
PREDICTION
  • It will be interesting to see just how hard Tottenham pushes to win this one, reading it as a North London Derby. Even if we do go ahead with an XI sprinkled with youth, I still see us pushing through to the next round
  • Tottenham 1-3 Arsenal