The Carabao Cup is back and King Power Stadium hosts the Leicester v Arsenal fixture tonight. Both teams have made an impressive start to the Premier League season with two wins in two games and will look to build some momentum in the opening month in the domestic cup. Leicester have defeated West Brom and Burnley to top the table while Arsenal have seen off Fulham at Craven Cottage and West Ham at home.
The timing of the Carabao Cup competition is just more evidence of a governing body that is out of touch with reality. After a prolonged two-part season and shortest pre-season in history, teams are now expected to engage in a series of games for the least desirable trophy in the domestic calendar.
The FA continues to astonish with its blatant lack of regard for clubs and players by not rescheduling it for later in the year, but it’s no major surprise! Anyway gripe over, Leicester v Arsenal will see Mikel Arteta use a mixture of youth and experienced fringe players to thwart a decent looking Leicester side in the Carabao Cup.
Some have expressed the opinion that the Foxes could well be a surprise package this season in the Premier League and it’s hard to argue with that. They did trail off dramatically last season and the season before, underlining a consistency problem since Brendan Rogers arrived, but make no mistake they will relish the Leicester v Arsenal Carabao Cup encounter.
It remains to be seen how many of the first team players Rodgers involves, but I suspect there will be a few key players including Jamie Vardy. Brendan Rodgers would ideally like to keep his striker fresh and free from harm so early in the campaign, but it’s doubtful that Vardy would be happy not to play some part in the proceedings.
Leicester have the talent, the skill, and the team, but seem to fall apart unexpectedly when appearing to be on top form. Having said that, they will certainly be favourites against an Arsenal side that may see nine changes in its line-up.
It’s no secret that Arteta’s priority this year is the Premier League and achieving qualification to the Champions League, but he will impress on his understudy’s the importance of this game for them individually as they try to force their way into the first team.
New goalkeeping acquisition Runar Alex Runarsson will get his first chance to impress and William Saliba should be lined up with the experienced David Luiz. Elsewhere, there should be room for the inclusion of Nelson, Saka, Pepe, and Willock, and for Willock in particular, this is an important game.
Willock’s appearances in the first team haven’t showcased his undeniable talents and he is in danger of falling out of contention with his inconsistent performances. The Leicester v Arsenal Carabao Cup encounter would be an excellent opportunity for him to make an impression on his manager and remind him that he has options that won’t cost £45m.
No place for Ozil or Guendouzi again as this clean slate business begins to resemble something of a myth. If they can’t even get a game in this competition, we can surely assume that their careers at Arsenal are over.
Leicester are usually full of pace and are quick to counter with a goal-hungry Vardy leading the line. The Leicester man has always performed well at Arsenal and it’s expected that he’ll get his obligatory goal.
Wiliam Saliba can look forward to a busy night ahead of him before he dips his toe in the Premiership waters in a few weeks. Luiz will be given the responsibility at the back and perhaps, even the captain’s armband.
Predicted Arsenal Line-up: Rúnarsson, Saliba, Luiz, Kolasinac, Maitland Niles, Willock, Elneny, Saka, Pepe, Nketiah, and Nelson.
Predicted Score: 1-1
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