Arsene Wenger is likely to field some academy graduates as Arsenal face Southampton in EFL Cup tie.
Arsene Wenger has promised to play a mix of experience and youth once again, as he tends to do in this competition. Arsenal are coming off the back of a 3-1 victory over Bournemouth in the English Premier League, but the Gunners picked up some fresh injury concerns after that game.
Olivier Giroud will definitely miss out after picking up a groin injury against Bournemouth, as will his compatriot and fellow French international Mathieu Debuchy who was forced off early with what Wenger has now confirmed is a hamstring injury.
One piece of good news for Arsenal is that Lucas Perez will definitely be included in the squad, something Wenger had hinted at earlier this week. The Spaniard picked up an ankle injury in Arsenal’s fourth-round victory over Reading five weeks ago and has not featured since. But, the striker returned to training last week and will be included in the squad for the match against Southampton.
Speaking to Arsenal.com, Arsene Wenger had this to say about his team selection :
“Mathieu has a scan today [Tuesday] but we don’t have the results yet. Lucas is in the squad and we will have a mixture of youth and experience, but still 90 per cent of the first-team squad.”
Wenger’s intention to play some of the academy players means that there will likely be starts for Emiliano Martinez – who recently signed a new contract – Rob Holding, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Jeff-Reine Adelaide. It is also likely that he will rest key first team players such as Nacho Monreal, Theo Walcott, Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, meaning Kieran Gibbs and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are likely to be handed a start.
However, with Southampton likely to name a strong squad with manager Claude Puel earlier this week saying they wanted to compete for silverware, Wenger could well name a stronger bench than he has on previous occasions.
Arsenal take on Southampton at The Emirates in the EFL Cup later tonight, at 1945 UK Time.