By Avenell Dave
Tonight doesn't matter, right?
It's a chance for younger and fringe players to get some good experience and show what they can do.
Wrong. Tonight is the future.
I met a fellow addict in the gym earlier who said how sorry he feels for some of the first team like Arteta and Santos because they're stop-gaps until the current wave of youth comes good.
I couldn't disagree more. What the more experienced players have taught Arsene Wenger is that the potential of youth is rarely realised without some wise older shoulders to guide it.
And while the likes of Frimpong, Coquelin and Oxlade-Chamberlain surely have bright futures ahead of them, they will learn as much from training and playing with more experienced team mates as they will from just playing games and hoping for the best.
That's why Project Youth didn't work. We needed a Gilberto or an Arteta to calm the team down when things got tricky.
So while it's great to see the youngsters get their chance tonight, more important is that they put a marker in the sand about their own ability.
Judging from the press conference yesterday, it looks as if Frimpong will go on loan in January and I can certainly see him joining the likes of Wolves or Bolton to get some games.
But while things are going well for the first team at present, a couple of injuries could change all that and that's why having wise heads like Benayoun will help players to develop.
I'm going to be controversial when I say I want Craig Eastmond in the side.
The reason? I don't want Santos or Vermaelen playing and getting injured and I'd rather see Djourou get a game in his rightful position of centre-back.
There's no one else who warrants a place at full-back so Eastmond gets my vote. With Coquelin and Frimpong ahead of him, I think the defence has a lot of cover.
All eyes will be on Alex Oxlande-Chamberlain, but it will be his first start in Arsenal colours away from home and it's vital he remembers that ball retention is important at this level. For all his skill, he gives the ball away cheaply, something he will no doubt learn in time.
Park has to start in attack for me, although I expect it will be Chamakh. We've all lost faith in the Moroccan for whom all the effort in the world fails to pull him out of his stupor. A change for everyone would do the world of good.
There's money at stake tonight as well. Each point or win brings more income to the club so let's finish on a winning note and see those fringe players prove that when the call comes, they'll be ready.
Eastmond Djourou Squillaci Miquel
Coquelin Frimpong Benayoun
Oxlade-Chamberlain Park Arshavin