After a start to the season that has brought disappointment, frustration and more questions than answers, Arsenal kick off their Carling Cup campaign against Shrewsbury Town this evening, looking to banish some demons.
The competition has always been seen as a second class by Arsène Wenger, but he swapped his long running youthful principles for a more committed offensive last term, leading to a final against Birmingham City. The scars of that last minute defeat are still there for all to see, as Wenger prepares to show his hand for this years Cup run.
In terms of team selection, the Frenchman has cooked up a mixture between last years experience driven side, and his favoured policy of young prospects. Łukasz Fabiański, Johan Djourou and Kieran Gibbs all need 90 minutes and all start, as does Marouane Chamakh, who will partner Park Chu-Young in a potential return to the 4-4-2.
Elsewhere, Carl Jenkinson and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain both impressed for the Reserves last week, and will offer a dangerous attacking threat on the right. On the left, Ryo Miyaichi’s lack of fitness means another chance for the experienced Yossi Benayoun. Francis Coquelin and Emmanuel Frimpong will anchor the midfield.
The bench is packed full of Reserve team talent. Second string skipper Ignasi Miquel starts the game, but with Sébastien Squillaci still missing, Daniel Boateng is included. Miyaichi, Nico Yennaris, Chuks Aneke, Oğuzhan Özyakup, Sanchez Watt and goalkeeper Emi Martínez make up a list of exciting replacements.
The action gets underway at 7.45pm.