Arsenal travel to League Two side Bradford for a League Cup tie tomorrow night. This will be the first time the two sides have met since the 2000/01 season.
The Gunners are likely to field a weakened side compared to what they normally do, but Arsene Wenger has promised to field an ‘experienced’ side. His idea of an experienced side may be different to ours, I believe you will see experience with the likes of Squillaci, Chamakh and Arshavin, but Wenger did make a good point saying how there is a long time until we next play after this (Reading next Monday), so there is plenty of time to recover for regular first-team players and he stated “we can use the players we want to use”. Make of that what you will.
Olivier Giroud is out after getting kicked in the back on Saturday. Theo Walcott remains out, Abou Diaby, Andre Santos and Laurent Koscielny are out too. Vito Mannone returns to the squad after being out on Saturday, whilst youngster Nico Yennaris has a back problem and Ignasi Miquel has a thigh problem. Bacary Sagna played hurt against West Brom, so will not be risked for this game.
Bradford manager Phil Parkinson has the difficult choice of picking a side for the game, with everyone at the club wanting to get on the pitch in their biggest game in over 10 years. Zavon Hines and Kyel Reid (that’s spelt correctly!) may not be fit enough to play in this game.
Bradford have been a good cup side this season and are the surprise team in the League Cup this season, having shocked Wigan in the last round. Generally speaking, you can say they’re a very good cup team. They’re still in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, as just mentioned they’re surprisingly still in the League Cup and they were only knocked out of the FA Cup due to expulsion for fielding an ineligible player. I was reading online that their record in penalty shoot-outs is top notch, so let’s hope it doesn’t get to that tomorrow night!.
Wenger certainly needs to make sure he fields a good side. I don’t expect him to field a first-team side, but I do expect him to field a mixed side that are capable of winning. Defeat in this game would be very embarrassing and would cause further calls for Wenger to leave. He needs to respect the opposition’s record in the cups and he needs to respect the competition. They need to take it seriously, it may not be Wenger’s priority this year, but it needs to be. Same with the FA Cup. They are Arsenal’s best shot of winning a trophy this year because they are already out of the title race and have very little chance in the Champions League.
Bradford will be very up for this and whatever team is put out tomorrow night need to be as up for it as they are. John Cross believes that the side will be strong tomorrow night having listened to him talking on the Fans’ Forum tonight. Fingers crossed. This is a big game tomorrow night, big game in our season. Regardless of what division they’re in, the Arsenal need to win tomorrow.