Arsenal face Manchester City in their Carabao Cup quarter-final on Tuesday.
Can the Carabao Cup be provide the escapism for Arsenal that the Europa League did? That would be a case to argue if it weren’t for the dramatic gulf in class between Pep Guardiola‘s side and the challenges Group B posed.
The only similarity will be the personnel. Well, some of them. Maybe.
Is this a fixture that Arsenal really need at this stage? Some of the worst football seen for decades is producing the worst string of results seen for equal lengths of time. Injuries to key players have come at the worse possible moment, therefore throwing more matches into an already congested fixture list can be classed as wholly unwanted.
But there is another argument to that.
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With a swathe of players not earning minutes in the Premier League, an opportunity to play high quality opposition in this competition will be their litmus test to prove they’re capable in the top-flight. Furthermore, there is a trophy just three matches away. We like those, although qualification for the UEFA Europa Conference League? Yeah, not so much.
Do the young players genuinely need to prove much more to warrant an opportunity in the Premier League? Regardless of one’s view of that, it appears so in the eyes of Mikel Arteta, who could continue his trend of fielding fringe players in the Carabao Cup.
Whether Guardiola will follow suit is another matter. The quality of the opponent would normally demand a strong side, but what is Arsenal’s ‘strong’ side? Surely it’s the winning combination struck in the Europa League, and so far in the Carabao Cup.
Facing Manchester City and Chelsea in the same week is the last thing Arsenal need. On the flip side, facing City and progressing to the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup is exactly what Arsenal need before the visit of Chelsea in the Premier League. It’s what they need, but is it what they’ll get?
Here’s your preview of Tuesday’s clash with Man City.