Preview Week Day 4: Carling Cup

Carlos Vela, Jay Simpson, Fran Merida

by BendyTheViking (Munich) – Last season Arsenal’s youngsters dazzled and amazed in the early stages of the Carling Cup as they quick became victims of their own success and when pressure mounted and the going got tough the young Gunners were unable to get past an experienced and organized Burnley team at Turf Moor.  This season Arsenal will undoubtedly field another squad of talented youngsters.  Who is in contention, though, only the boss can know for sure, but it is easy to imagine who might be in the running for a run out in the Cup.


Lukasz FabianskiLukasz Fabianski is poised to continue his roll as cup keeper again this season and the Carling Cup is the ideal place for him to pick up more experience and match sharpness.  Arsenal’s number two put in some outstanding performances in he Carling Cup last season with the highlight undoubtedly that wonderful double save against Wigan.  If Fabianski can continue to improve and find some consistency between the sticks then perhaps his “older” head can help guide the youngsters to Cup glory.  Other keepers in line for a spot in the Carling Cup squad would be Arsenal’s current third choice keeper Vito Mannone as well as fellow Polish keeper Wojciech Szczęsny. Admittedly I know very little about either of these keepers other then what I have seen briefly in he Reserves and in preseason.  Out of the two I would say Szczęsny is the more impressive keeper.  He also has a few years on Vito but looks further along.  I would bet Vito gets the back up keeper role but it might prove beneficial for Arsenal in the long run to perhaps up Szczęsny on the bench for a couple of the games.  He certainly has to look of a good keeper in the making and exposure to the first team could be what is needed this season to bring him along.


Kieran GibbsThere are really a number of possibilities here. Normally I would have pegged Havard Nordveit to hold down the fort, but the young lad is currently away on loan gaining valuable experience. In his place I imagine one or two youngster from the FA Youth Cup winning side will step up.  Also depending on whether Arsene purchases another defender, players like Vermaelen or Djourou could see minutes in the Carling Cup this season. Djourou is still fairly young and Vermaelen could use the Carling Cup to help adapt to England, much as Eduardo did. As well, I would imagine Eboue could be given a run out at right back as well as Gavin Hoyte. Left back spot will surely see the return of Kieran Gibbs to first team action while Traore could challenge for a spot if he remains at the club this season.  Messrs Bartley and Ayling could be in contention for a place in the side after both, and especially Ayling, have impressed in the last six months.


Aaron Ramsey will without a doubt resume a starting role again in the Carling Cup.  With Fran Merida anticipated to be heading out on loan it seems likely that Henri Lansbury could be given a starting birth in the side in the more advanced midfield role once he recovers from the injury he picked up on international duty.  Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and Francis Coquelin should both also see minutes and there is the chance that Emmanuel Frimmpong could step up into the first team set-up in the Carling Cup as well.  If Mark Randall remains at the club again this season I would suspect that Wenger, unfortunately, would set him up with a starting place.  Here’s to hoping he heads back out on loan.


Nacer BaraziteThis is another area which seems fairly straight forward.  We will likely see a continuation of last season with Carlos Vela being the predominate striker.  The likes of Jay Simpson could also be involved. However, I anticipate Jay heading back out on loan.  Jack Wilshere should reprise his preseason role on the right wing where he has proved to be particularly deadly.  It would not be out of the question as well to see Nicklas Bendtner back in the Carling Cup should he be short of minutes.  Given his preseason appearances, it seems likely that Sanchez Watt will be given a run out in some form in the Carling Cup.  Nacer Barazite is a player I am hoping will be given a chance in the Cup as well.  He has really impressed me and I believe Barazite could really grow into a strong player.  He has never been given a proper chance in the Arsenal first team as of yet and after a character-building loan spell with Derby last season as well as more impressive performances in the preseason game at Barnet as well as in the Reserves he could finally be in a prime position to make his mark on the first team.

Taking this all into consideration, I believe Arsenal’s best line up for the Carling Cup would be as follows:

Subs: Mannone, Bartley, Hoyte, Emmanuel-Thomas, Frimmpong, Simpson, Watt


Future Arsenal DM?

The Carling Cup is a great chance to give some of our youngsters a run out.  Some will gain just from being in the squad and the first team set-up while others such as Vela, Wilshere, Ramsey and Gibbs will use this as a platform to push further into the first team and challenge establish players more consistently for minutes.  In addition to its value for the youngsters, I strongly believe that the Carling Cup would be a wonderful trophy for the club to win.  Should we win it, the unique timing could both give us the boost of getting some silverware for the season as well as removing the silverware monkey off the club’s back should we find ourselves in a position to still be challenging for the Premier or Champions Leagues.  Winning the Carling Cup would also lift the supporters and the club in general.  It could take away some of the pressure of winning something and allow the first team to kick on from strength to strength instead of focusing on ending the drought.  Whatever happens in the League Cup this season, Arsenal fans can be sure they will see some top class entertainment.  Who knows, maybe this year Arsene’s young guns and make it all the way to the podium!

Enjoy these highlights from our two most memorable Carling Cup matches from last season.


Carling Cup: Arsenal v Sheffield United (23 September 2009)

Carling Cup: Arsenal v Wigan (11 November 2009)

Arsenal and Arsenal Station Return!


That’s right… Arsenal Station is back for the new campaign. And so are Arsenal having drawn in their annual preseason opener with Barnet, 2-2. The highlights of the match were Barazite’s class curler and Rosicky’s return, which can be seen below and also in our new Vodpod widget in the right column that will archive all highlights and videos for the entire season. Of course, the biggest news though is that Adebayor has completed his move to Manchester City for a reported 25m pounds, though as of Sunday afternoon and despite the widespread media coverage, it is yet to appear on

What everyone wants to know now is will the Boss use the money. He has already come out and said that replacing Adebayor is not an imperative. Rumours ranging from Klaas Jan Huntelaar to Bordeaux striker Marouane Chamakh appear to be just that as both clubs have reported no official contact from Arsenal. Apparently, Madrid have reached an agreement with Stuttgart, but the player and his agent have not. The Daily Mail claims the fee agreed by Madrid is 17m pounds. I’ve always thought that Huntelaar was the type of player we were missing up front, central and direct with only goals on his mind.

However, like the Boss, I don’t think that Adebayor needs to be replaced and that the money would be far better spent on a defensive midfielder. The problem here is that details over the payment schedule have not surfaced. It would seem likely that Arsenal would have pushed for, at least, a large percentage of the transfer fee, if not all of it, up front rather than spread out over a few years, as has become common. If that is not the case, it becomes even more unlikely that Wenger makes any serious push for a central midfielder. Though, with a deeper central defense following the arrival of Thomas Vermaelen, giving Kolo Toure a look there may become an option Wenger is willing to take a more serious look at should Song’s development not continue apace.

As for Adebayor… good riddance. 25m for him is a steal for Arsenal. He has serious attitude problems, cannot seem to stay onsides, and, generally, is a very frustrating player. He has all the potential in the world, but he just can’t seem to concentrate solely on the football. Who knows, maybe now that he’s gotten the big payday he’s obviously been looking for, even though Arsenal renegotiated a huge pay rise for him after his fluke season, he may be able to worry about what happens on the pitch more than what happens off of it. Though, I cannot see him being happy as a part-time starter and his streaky nature almost guarantees he will be given City’s options up front.

If Wenger spends the money on a defensive midfielder, this will easily turn out to be a far better and more significant deal for Arsenal than Manchester City. The first team leave for Austria early this week and face SC Columbia on Tuesday at 17:30 while a Reserve XI will face Lincoln City on Monday evening.

Barnet v Arsenal – 18 July 2009 (Highlights & Interviews)

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