By Graham McNorthbank
Arsenal kick off their Carling Cup campaign against West Brom at Emirates Stadium tonight and as usual us Gooners are anticipating a strong performance from the club’s teenage fringe players.
Having reached the final in 2007, the next Carling outing ended in a semi final defeat while last year the youngsters fell at the quarter final stage, so Arsene Wenger will be determined to turn around that perceived step backwards to progress further again this season.
I say perceived because I thought last year’s squad was arguably the best of the Carling Cup sides in recent years, despite losing away from home to Burnley in December.
Tonight we should see a few of the fans’ favourites, such as Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Kieran Gibbs and Carlos Vela getting a run out, while on the flip side Philippe Senderos and Mikael Silvestre should also get a rare first team appearance.
In goal we should see the highly rated Wojciech Sczcesny getting his debut, while at the back I’d imagine that Senderos and Silvestre will marshal the centre back areas, flanked by Gibbs and possibly Gavin Hoyte, although I’d like to see Kyle Bartley at kick off than Silvestre.
In midfield we have the tantalising prospect of Wilshere, Ramsey, Fran Merida and Armand Traore running the show, although whether Le Gaffer will be that bold in his selection remains to be seen, as the Championship leaders will be stiff opposition for the young Guns.
But with Carlos Vela returning to fitness, I’m most looking forward to seeing our young Mexican back in action, possibly alongside Sanchez Watt whose form has elevated him to the Premier League squad’s bench recently. I wouldn’t bee too surprised to Nicklas Bendtner in the starting line up instead, but I’d love to see the speed and skill of both Vela and Watt getting a chance to see what they can do against West Brom.
As usual, leave your thoughts on the starting line up here using our comments section below – and feel free to compare with my starting 11, which would be:
Hoyte Senderos Bartley Gibbs
Wilshere Ramsey Merida Traore