Archive for September 25th, 2007

Carling Cup line-up revealed + Ones to Watch…

38 comments September 25th, 2007

A later-than-usual blog today.  Despite somehow managing to drag myself into work, I feel like the gorilla from the Cadbury’s ad is playing the drums to Phil Collins very very loudly inside my skull.

Cadbury aren’t paying me anything for that joke-shaped plug.  However, if they would like to donate vast amounts of chocolate to me, I would not (in principle) be adverse to that.

Probable team to face NewcastleArsene has revealed his sixteen for the Carling Cup tie with Newcastle.  The team is almost guaranteed to look very much like the one on the right here, with the only possible change being the inclusion of Emmanuel Eboue in place of Theo Walcott.  However, considering he has only just returned from injury, I imagine Eboue will be held back as an impact substitute. 

It’s a fairly strong side – the front six are certainly a match for Newcastle’s defence, but I do worry about the pairing of Song and Senderos against Viduka and Martins.

Next to Eboue on the bench will be teen Spanish sensation Fran Merida, aswell as bright English hopes Henri Lansbury and Justin Hoyte’s brother Gavin.

Tonight’s line-up contains three full debutants, all of whom are profiled below:

Lukasz Fabianski
Just 22 and already with 4 full international caps, Fabianski was signed this summer to provide a long-term challenge for the number 1 jersey currently occupied by Manuel Almunia.  From what I’ve seen of him, he is extremely agile for his height and, like Jens Lehmann, not afraid of charging out of his box to sweep up with his feet.  Solid performances in the Carling Cup should establish his credentials for a permanent place between the sticks.

Lassana Diarra
Signed from Chelsea on transfer deadline day night, Diarra becomes the latest young central midfielder to be added to Arsene’s collection.  Fortunately for the frenchman, he is not tall and lanky, so unlike Abou Diaby will avoid any comparisons with Patrick Vieira.  In fact, his quick feet and tidy tackling are more likely to remind fans of another French international: Claude Makelele.  Diarra is better than Makelele going forward, and his incisive passing can make a difference in the final third.  After an impressive outing as a substitute against Derby, I’m excited to see what Diarra can do from the start tonight.

Niklas Bendtner
Completing the trio of debutants tonight is teenage Danish striker Niklas Bendtner.  Arsene Wenger is in no doubt about his quality:

“Nicklas is strong, he’s quick, he’s an intelligent boy, he’s a good finisher, he’s good in the air and he’s a good team player.”

However, there remain questions over Bendtner’s application, and Wenger coupled his praise with a stark warning for the youngster:

“For me he has everything in his locker that needs to be in there. But it doesn’t mean because you have it in you that you have done it — it is all to do for him.”

Finally, a word for Alex Song, who Arsene feels has been “misjudged”. 

“I feel he was misjudged in the Fulham game last year where we had a nightmare first half. He was involved in it so everyone thought he was to blame but I didn’t think so. He moved out to Charlton where he had some great games.  We believe he is a quality player and I personally believe he can make it at centre back.”

Well, I saw Song play centre-back against lowly Barnet and I’m not as convinced by him as our manager.  But then, I haven’t got a proven track reckon of spotting and developing young talent.  Arsene has.  Whatever your feelings about Song, it’s important we remember that not every young player can be a Fabregas and flourish at sixteen.  The same must be remembered when judging Theo Walcott.

Arsene is a genius in this field, and if he has faith in these players then we ought to show patience with his judgement.  At the risk of jinxing everything, I’d be over the moon if Song could prove a few people (including myself) wrong tonight.

Come on Arsenal.

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