Arsenal kick off their 2017-18 campaign in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday when they host Doncaster Rovers at Emirates Stadium
The third round of the Carabao Cup concludes on Wednesday. The League Cup is the only domestic trophy that Arsenal have not managed to win under Arsene Wenger, and the Gunners will be bidding for their first successful campaign starting with the visit of Doncaster Rovers at Emirates.
The hosts come into this match on the back of a promising turnaround in form at the start of September, with two wins and a draw in their three games. Their most recent result, a 0-0 draw at Chelsea would give Arsene Wenger’s men a lot of confidence ahead of what is going to be a busy next few months.
Doncaster, on the other hand, come into the match on the back of a horrible run of form, with their last outright win coming nearly a month back, in the previous round of the same competition. Since then they have drawn twice, while being on the wrong side of the result four times, including the last three times.
The last meeting between the two sides was in the same competition twelve years ago, ending in a 2-2 draw before Arsenal triumphed in a penalty shootout. Ahead of their latest meeting on Wednesday, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
The injury list is growing with each passing week for Arsene Wenger, with Danny Welbeck the latest player to pick up an issue. The English striker sustained a worrying groin injury in the match against Chelsea, and the early reports suggest that the player will be out for several weeks, if not months.
Welbeck has joined Mesut Ozil (unspecified), Francis Coquelin (hamstring) and Santi Cazorla (Achilles) on the treatment table. While Ozil is expected to return to action within a week, Coquelin is likely to be unavailable for a few more weeks. Cazorla is a long-term absentee is expected to be unavailable for the remainder of 2017.
Meanwhile, Arsene Wenger is expected to make wholesale changes to the side that started at Chelsea on the weekend. In fact, a brand new starting eleven wouldn’t be a surprising sight on Wednesday, with the Arsenal boss known to provide opportunities to youngsters in cup competitions.
Therefore, the likes of Reiss Nelson, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Chuba Akpom and several others are in contention to feature. One player who is likely to start is Jack Wilshere, who showed promising signs in his appearance from the bench last week against FC Koln in Europa League.
Possible Starting XI (3-4-2-1): Ospina; Holding, Mertesacker, Chambers; Nelson, Elneny, Wilshere, Maitland-Niles; Walcott, Sanchez; Giroud
Like his counterpart in the Arsenal dugout, Darren Ferguson has a number of injury concerns to deal with ahead of the visit to the Emirates on Wednesday. In fact, the Doncaster boss is set to be without as many as five first-team players against the Gunners.
Winger Alex Kiwomya (calf) is the player expected to return to action first, but the game against Arsenal comes too soon for him. The likes of Ross Etheridge (ankle), Mathieu Baudry (heel) and Luke McCullough (knee), though, will remain on the sidelines for at least another month.
Left-back Danny Andrew (knee), though, is a long-term absentee and will miss the remainder of the season due to his injury. Meanwhile, the key men for Ferguson will be striker Alfie May, who has already found the back of the net twice in the competition.
Possible Starting XI (4-4-2): Lawlor; Blair, Wright, Butler, Mason; Whiteman, Houghton, Coppinger, Rowe; May, Marquis
- Arsenal and Doncaster Rovers have previously faced each other eight times, with the Gunners winning seven and losing once.
- The two sides have met in the Carabao Cup thrice, with Arsenal winning each of the meetings. The last meeting between the two ended in a 2-2 draw with the Gunners winning in a penalty shootout.
- Arsenal have conceded a goal in 13 of their last 15 matches in the Carabao Cup.
- Doncaster Rovers, on the other hand, have managed to find the back of the net in each of their last ten outings in the League Cup.
- Doncaster Rovers are on a six-game winless run, losing each of their last three matches, which has left them 19th in the League One table.
Player To Watch
From one of the most highly-rated prospects in English football to a figure of frustrations due to the several injuries that have hampered his progress in the last few years, Jack Wilshere’s career at Arsenal currently seems to be at a crossroads.
Back at the Emirates after a promising season-long loan at Bournemouth, the English midfielder has to almost start from scratch as an Arsenal player. On Wednesday though, with a first start in over a year on the cards, Wilshere has the opportunity to show just how important he can be for the Gunners this season.
The player’s performance will also be key in ensuring a positive result for the Gunners as he will be in charge of dictating the tempo of the game on the night, while also creating the chances for his teammates. An important outing, thus, for both the player and his side.
Arsenal 3-0 Doncaster Rovers
On paper, the matchup is a mismatch of sorts, despite the fact that Arsene Wenger is expected to start with an entirely fresh starting eleven on the night. Even though games aren’t won or lost on paper, the gulf in class between the two sides is too big for Doncaster to overcome.
With the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Olivier Giroud and Jack Wilshere likely to feature, Wenger has more than enough firepower to dispatch the visitors with ease. Therefore, The Hard Tackle predicts a comfortable 3-0 win for Arsenal.