One will be cheered tonight, the other abused...and rightly so
Man City's billionaire squad players roll in to town this evening for the Carling Cup quarter-final. I do not expect Arsenal to progress any further in the competition. Having said that, a win over City tonight would be a massive boost for Arsenal. We know that Arsene will ring the changes once again, but I really hope we see a slightly stronger line-up than that which played in the previous round (certainly a stronger 18 is required).
I think that both Park and Chamakh will play, and this might see another return to 4-4-2. I certainly believe that having some support helps Chamakh, and his aerial ability could trouble Manchester City (especially if Kolo plays for them, as expected). Elsewhere in the side we will see Lukasz Fabianski between the sticks. This will be his first match for Arsenal since the last Carling Cup game. Given that he never plays for the Reserves (though he did play for Poland during the international break) it would be no surprise if Fabianski was more than a bit rusty tonight. Like a number of players, the Pole's form got better with a run of games when he played this time last year - perhaps it's just too much to expect a player to come in cold with not enough match practise. After being rested on Saturday I wouldn't be surprised to see Koscielny back in action tonight, and maybe Mertesacker could also appear alongside Squillaci, with Miquel at left-back again. In midfield we will likely have Frimpong and Coquelin, with Chamberlain on one wing and Arshavin or Benayoun on the other. The bench is where I would really like to see us stronger. Chuks Aneke has gone out on loan, so he certainly won't be there this evening, but I would like to see one or two more senior figures knocking about.
I notice that Abou Diaby is injured again. I wrote last week that I felt this was Abou's last chance. He has played about thirty minutes in total and he is out once more with a muscle injury. I have come round to the idea that Diaby's story is actually quite a tragic one. I believe that his promising career has been wrecked by the thuggish foul by Dan Smith (a complete no-mark of a footballer) at Sunderland. There has to come a point where Arsenal say enough is enough - you can't keep on paying the wages when the player simply can't handle anything remotely physical.
For City there is little point in second-guessing their team. They have so many players that could play tonight, many of whom cost more than almost anyone in our entire squad. It seems that Hargreaves will play in midfield (another career torn apart by injury), while Kolo Toure will get a game. Kolo will be welcomed by the Gooners, I am sure, but not so Samir Nasri if he is involved. Arsene Wenger has said that we should treat our former players with respect. I entirely agree with him in the case of players who deserve respect. However, money-grabbing little toe-rags who choose to slag the Club and the fans after they move on deserve to be abused. Samir Nasri will, if he is there tonight, get booed and slated by those in attendance. He deserves everything he gets in that regard.
As I said the other day, work is preventing my attendance this evening, which is a disappointment as the Carling Cup games are usually among the most enjoyable of the season - £10 to watch Arsenal v Manchester City provides exceptional value (you notice the press have failed to report this - after all, it's not Manchester United keeping reduced prices, is it?) I have the SkyPlus set so I will watch the game late tonight when I get home. I'll post a review at some point tomorrow, when there will also be some news about the blog over the next couple of weeks.