Arsenal will travel to White Hart Lane on Wednesday evening to face arch rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the third round of the Capital One Cup. The Gunners were well beaten 2-0 by Chelsea in their Premier League clash on Saturday and finished the game with nine men after both Gabriel Paulista and Santi Cazorla were dismissed by referee Mike Dean.
Tottenham, meanwhile, scraped their second successive 1-0 victory and have climbed up to ninth in the Premier League table. Despite back-to-back wins over Sunderland and Crystal Palace, Spurs are still behind the Gunners in the Premier League table and are the outsiders for this tie. We take a look at Wednesday’s clash and predict how the game could go.
How important is this match?
In the grand scheme of things, the Capital One Cup probably isn’t too high on Arsene Wenger’s list of priorities. The Gunners remain in contention for the Premier League title and will have to improve quickly if they are to reach the knockout stages of the Champions League.
While Arsenal’s supporters won’t particularly care about the League Cup, it’s still a north London derby match and the Gunners shall be well up for the challenge. Wenger is likely to select Arsenal’s fringe players but they will all be eager to impress the manager when given the opportunity.
Where will the match be won and lost?
As with every north London derby, it will be a physical encounter and Arsenal must win the midfield battle if they are going to progress to the fourth round on Wednesday evening. The Gunners will be without the suspended Santi Cazorla while Tomas Rosicky and Jack Wilshere are still side-lined with long-term injury problems.
Mikel Arteta may be handed another start after the Spaniard featured against Dinamo Zagreb last week. Although Arteta didn’t have the best of games, Wenger may choose to rest Francis Coquelin after the youngster picked up a slight knock in the defeat to Chelsea. With fixtures against Olympiacos and Manchester United coming up, Arsenal need their best players fit and raring to go.
Furthermore, David Ospina may get the nod in place of number one goalkeeper Petr Cech. Ospina has waited patiently on the substitute’s bench throughout the Premier League season but Wenger has traditionally gone for his second choice goalkeeper in the domestic cup competitions. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see the Colombia international start in goal for the Gunners, while Mathieu Debuchy and Kieran Gibbs could also get rare starts.
A look at the opposition
In the last few years, Spurs have played a strong team in the League Cup but that could all be about to change. It is likely that Mauricio Pochettino will select a weakened side for this encounter and the likes of Tom Carroll and Alex Pritchard could be given a rare opportunity to impress in front of their home fans.
Many Tottenham supporters believe that Pochettino may opt for a similar starting line-up to that which was selected in the 3-1 Europa League victory against FK Qarabag. Kieran Trippier, who gave away a penalty on his debut against the Azerbaijan outfit, could also earn a recall to the starting XI.
Although the top stars may not be on show, this clash will be full of bite and aggression – just like any typical north London derby. Tottenham may select a slightly stronger side on paper but the Gunners will be hungry to bounce back after two successive defeats in all competitions. They won’t want to lose to their bitter rivals and could well sneak through by the odd goal. We’ll go for a 2-1 Arsenal victory.