Why the Carabao Cup is Arsenal’s Welcome Distraction

We’re only two games into the Premier League season.

…..And already it’s the Carabao Cup up next! With the postponement of football across the globe, there were murmurs of this particular competition being axed from the 2020/21 calendar entirely. For an Arsenal side with one clear goal in sight, that wouldn’t have been all too disheartening.

Navigating their way back into the Champions League is the task at hand; whether that comes via the top four or finishing top of the pile in the Europa League, it doesn’t matter.

One thing that is clear at present is that Arsenal have an overly bloated squad. We can ask questions of the quality within that group, but to say there isn’t scope for rotation would be wide of the mark. A good number of fringe players are yet to even make the bench in the top-flight, so competitions such as this one are ideal for maintaining match fitness and giving opportunities to those who who struggle for minutes elsewhere.

Players such as Reiss Nelson, Emile Smith Rowe and the eventual returns of Calum Chambers and Pablo Mari – just to name a few – will be using cup competitions as chances to stake their claim.

Initially, many wouldn’t have lost much sleep if the Carabao Cup came and went without the Gunners’ input. Not being in it at all probably wouldn’t have gone amiss.

Using it in a similar way to how Arsene Wenger used it should be the port of call since, let’s be honest, we’re not too bothered about actually winning it. It’d be great, make no bones about it, since trophies are there to be won and memories to be cherished forever. Yet for the financial stability of the club and to become a more enticing proposition to potential incomings, Champions League comes first.

It’s funny, isn’t it? All the uproar with not being content to finish in the top four each year and wanting silverware instead during the latter part of Wenger’s reign, has now turned on its head. Granted, that’s not the view of everyone, but considering where Arsenal are at the minute, it has to come first.

Doing so with a European trophy in the bag is the ideal route.

But with the Carabao Cup, let’s freshen the starting XI up with those who’ve been unable to get minutes and look at it from a different perspective. Instead of an unwelcome distraction, we should view it through opportunistic lenses: a chance for players to give the manager a real headache. If Reiss Nelson plays and bags a brace, I’d hate to be the guy that tells him he’s not in the squad for the next league game.

It isn’t an easy game away at Leicester, that much is sure, but equally, if the players chosen put in a limp display, we could learn a lot about their character and general quality.

With the pressure of needing to return among Europe’s elite set to weigh down on the players’ shoulders all throughout this campaign, taking a break away from such burdens and playing with the shackles off in the cups will be a relief for them, even more so than supporters.

Hopefully we’ll see a youthful side featuring Joe Willock, Nelson, William Saliba, maybe Matt Macey as well as giving Eddie Nketiah a start. The players who did so well getting us into the latter stages of last season’s FA Cup should be chomping at the bit on Wednesday.

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This competition may be the least of our worries, but giving the younger players a platform to express themselves should be reason enough to tune in with eagerness.