Arsenal kick off the 2022/23 League Cup campaign against Brighton tonight at The Emirates. This is Brighton’s second fixture of the competition, beating Forest Green Rovers 3-0 in the last round.
I wondered if this would be the competition in which Mikel Arteta might rest more players than he has in the Europa Cup so far but nope, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Talking in his pre-match press conference, he said:
It is a different competition but the purpose is the same, to play as good as we can, win the game and go into the next round, You know there are no second chances and we’ll take it very seriously. We’re going to pick a very competitive team. I think everyone deserves chances, and we’ll make some changes with judgement in relation to the load of the players, but we’ll play to win.
His opposite number, Roberto de Zerbi said something similar yesterday too:
It will be a test for many players, but when we wear our shirt we must play seriously and we must try to win. it’s a very important game. I can make some changes in the first 11 but, for me, the cup or a friendly is like a Premier League game. There’s not a big difference. It’s important to always win, but it’s most important to play seriously. If we want to prepare in the best way for the next game against Aston Villa, we have to play well tomorrow – 100%. The best way to arrive in the best condition next Sunday is to play well tomorrow.
So, it should be a competitive game if both manager’s are taking this competition seriously but even so, de Zerbi clearly has Villa on his mind already and I’m sure Mikel Arteta is thinking about Wolves too because another win would keep us top of the league for Christmas. Then it all starts again only busier than ever before. But that’s 6/7 weeks away.
Takehiro Tomiyasu and Emile Smith-Rowe will miss this one through injury Cedric Soares, Marquinhos, Matt Turner, Rob Holding, Eddie Nketiah, Reiss Nelson, Sambi Lokonga and Fabio Vieira will no doubt be hoping to start this one and I’d imagine Mo Elneny starting is a certainty. Kieran Tierney and one of Gabriel or William Saliba will be needed too. I hope it’s Gabriel, purely because Saliba is one booking away from a one match ban and we need him for Saturday’s trip to Wolves. Same applies to Gabriel Jesus.
Brighton have just the one player missing through injury and that’s Jakub Moder. Brighton have had a bit of a mixed few months. They lost their manager to Chelsea but when the two clubs met a couple of weeks ago, it was the south coast side which ended the game smiling after a convincing 4-1 victory. Last weekend they beat Wolves 3-2 away from home. Wolves played the second half with ten men. The two victories came after a run of five games without a win.
Arsenal are on a very good run and playing really well. Our only real drop in performances has been in the Europa League but considering the number of changes Mikel Arteta made for those fixtures, it’s kind of understandable. Yes, we lost at Old Trafford and huffed and puffed a bit against Southampton but with the amount of fixtures the team/squad has played, I can understand that too. Even City, with their deep superstar squad have had dips and dropped points.
The League Cup is a weird one really. Of course I hope we beat Brighton because winning is great for confidence, moral and all that stuff but if we go out at this stage, then I certainly wouldn’t lose any sleep over it. In my head, beating Wolves is more important in the long term.
Lastly, congratulations to Beth Mead who have been voted BBC Footballer Of The Year. Chelsea striker Sam Kerr, Wolfburg attacker Alexandra Popp, Barcelona’s Alexia Putellas, and Lyon captain Wendie Renard were all in the running but it was our girl who came out top. Rightly so too.
See you in the comments.