Arsenal begin their Carabao Cup campaign against Brentford, as Unai Emery is expected to rotate his side for the third-round clash heavily.
Arsenal are in a rich vein of form currently having won their last five games in all competitions including four in the Premier League since they lost their opening two games of the season. The Gunners, now face Championship side Brentford in the Carabao Cup third-round tie, as Arsenal look to justify their favourites tie to reach the next round of the competition.
The Gunners were runners-up in this competition last season when they beat Chelsea in a two-legged semi-final affair, only to lose to Manchester City in the final. Although that period for the Gunners was considered full of tension as squad harmony and their managerial situation affected those playing in the field, but this time around there are no such problems.
Unai Emery is expected to heavily rotate his side and give rest to key individuals who have featured in the last seven games in all competitions. Arsenal come into this game at the back of a decent victory over Everton and hope to make things difficult for Brentford at the Emirates.
Brentford are in decent form themselves; however, they come into this game at the back of a 3-1 defeat to Derby County in the Championships. In the Second round of the Carabao cup, Brentford defeated Cheltenham courtesy of a solitary goal from Julian Jeanvier but now face tough Premier League opposition, something their manager Dean Smith won’t be pleased about. Smith has met Premier League teams five times so far and lost all those games, but hopes his side gets a result against Arsenal.
Team News & Tactics
Unai Emery will take the Carabao Cup rather seriously, although he will be sensing a chance to rest many of his key players to rotate his starting lineup heavily. There are also few fresh injury concerns in the side with Henrikh Mkhitaryan who is yet to recover from an ankle injury sustained against Vorskla in the Europa League and Sokratis who limped off during their win over Everton last weekend.
Barring them, Laurent Koscielny, Sead Kolasinac, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Carl Jenkinson are long-term absentees. The Brentford clash could pave the way for some fringe players as well as some youngsters to make their mark, with Emile Smith Rowe primed to make his full senior debut against the Championship side.
Bernd Leno will undoubtedly get another chance between the posts as will Konstantinos Mavropanos, as the Greek defender could make his first appearance of the season for the club. Alex Iwobi could continue, and Danny Welbeck could be the starting central striker as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette could be rested, which could also mean a role for Eddie Nketiah from the start.
Probable Starting Lineup (4-2-3-1) – Leno; Lichtsteiner, Mavropanos, Holding, Monreal; Guendouzi, Elneny; Smith Rowe, Ozil, Iwobi; Welbeck
Brentford are set to welcome back defender Moses Odubajo who is primed to make his first appearance of the season. Moses hasn’t featured for the side this season after he returned from Hull City due to a severe knee injury. Dean Smith will also assess midfielder Josh Clarke, who has a hamstring problem.
Defender Rico Henry is, however, sidelined due to a knee injury. Dean Smith has plenty of players pushing for a recall to the side and could select between the likes of Luke Daniels, Tom Field, Sergi Canos andAlan Judge. But other than the few injuries mentioned, Dean Smith has an otherwise fully-fit squad at his disposal.
Probable Starting Lineup (4-3-3) – Bentley; Dalsgaard, Jeanvier, Mepham, Barbet; Mokotjo, MacLeod, Yennaris; Benrahma, Watkins, Maupay
- Arsenal last faced Brentford in May 1947 in league with the Gunners emerging 1-0 winners then.
- Arsenal have been eliminated in the third round stage of the Carabao cup only once in the last 15 seasons.
- Brentford have faced Premier League opposition 21 times in the Carabao Cup eliminating only two teams in the process.
- Brentford are also only one of the five English teams that Arsenal have more losses than wins against in their history.
- Brentford Boss Dean Smith has faced Premier League opposition five times in his managerial career, losing on all occasions.
Player to Watch
Emile Smith Rowe
Touted as the future of Arsenal Football Club, Emile Smith-Rowe has shown in pre-season that he is already a mature player despite being only 17-years old. Smith Rowe made his first appearance for the club during the Gunners win over Vorskla in the Europa League group stage game last week, and is primed to make his first start for the senior side.
Smith Rowe also received massive praise from Unai Emery following his pre-season displays, but that scenario was different than an actual competition, and it’s up to the player to show what he is capable of. Smith Rowe would be taking the cue from Matteo Guendouzi, who despite his young age has made a significant mark on the Gunners first team. A good performance against Brentford could pave the way for Smith Rowe to become a more substantial member of Arsenal’s first team.
Arsenal 3-1 Brentford
The fact that Arsenal have only been ousted in this round of the competition in the last 15 season is a testimony to the Gunners prowess. Arsenal have had a better record against teams from the Championships or lower leagues, but that shouldn’t be a cue to take things for granted. Emery will ensure that the side comes clean through against Brentford, mostly due to the quality of players Arsenal have.
Even though Emery is expected to rest Aubameyanf and Lacazette, they would still have the required firepower to overcome Brentford on the field, especially with a good midfield pairing and Danny Welbeck up front. Expect Arsenal to win this tie massively, although owing to a slightly different defensive setup, Brentford could very well score against the Gunners.