Ahhh, the Carling Cup… the League Cup, who what is sponsored by the beer called Carling. Exciting things to know about the League Cup:
- The semi-finals are held over two legs and it’s the only competition that I know of which counts the away goals rule AFTER overtime.
- It only takes 4 wins for a Champions League team to claim this trophy.
- Arsenal last won it in 1993.
- Theo Walcott’s first ever Arsenal goal was scored in the 2007 League Cup final against Chelsea, which was marred by unfortunate celery throwing, Chelsea players cheating, and some hideous cheat named “Drogba” scoring two goals to give Jose Mourinho his 18th trophy, in his own mind.
- Arsenal follow a “youth policy” in the League Cup, which means that they generally play their second tier players to get them some match time in big games. Teams like Chelsea and Tottenham, who have no youth team to field and who hold the 5 game tournament in high esteem, as if it were a real tournament, play their first team.
- The only reason why anyone takes this tournament at all seriously is that once every 5 years a team like Tottenham can win it and by doing so be granted a spot in the UEFA Cup and thus “play in Europe” which in turn lowers the competition enough that mangers like Juande Ramos look like tactical geniuses and then, in turn, manage Tottenham and the cycle of life for a bottom feeder club is completed.
The question of the day against Wigan is “who will Wenger play?” We know that Wigan are without Heskey (who has been doing a wonderful job for England and Wigan) but their main threat, Zaki, is going to be giving fits to the Arsenal back line and Song and Djourou will need to be on the top of their game to stop this guy.
Up front, I’d like to say that Bendtner will get a rest, but honestly I can’t see that happening. I suspect that Wenger will go for a 4-5-1 again, to give balance to the defense, and that means Bendtner is needed up front to hold the ball and be the big target.
Which brings us to the midfield. With the Boss saying that 90% of the team that played against Sheffield United will be on display again tonight, I expect only 1 change. Wilshere and Ramsey are all but guaranteed to start but if the boss does elect to play a 4-5-1 we could see a little Bischoff slotted in there behind the striker, and Carlos Vela out on the wing.
And hey, that’s what’s exciting about this tournament from an Arsenal perspective; we get to see players like The Hoff play.
So, like I said yesterday, the match is kicking off at 11:45 PST on Setanta and Doyle’s is carrying it live. Come on down and have a pint and sandwich, win or lose it is always fun to see the Arsenal youth team.