On Wednesday evening, Arsenal welcome promotion battlers, Brentford, to the Emirates for a Carabao Cup tie that promises much more than you’d expect.
Arsenal, who have only lost once at this stage of the competition over the previous 15 seasons (A 2-1 loss to Southampton in 2014), and reached the final last year, come into this match-up on the back of five straight victories.
Equally, Brentford are encountering a positive start to the season, four wins in nine warrants a seventh place position, and a feeling of optimism amongst supporters.
History between the two teams is limited. The two sides haven’t met in over 60 years, with the last match being played in May 1947, where The Gunners won 1-0 at Griffin Park.
With their good form, it’s not only Brentford’s supporters being optimistic. Manager Dean Smith proclaimed that his side “will not fear Arsenal” and openly discussed how his players were more excited to “test themselves against one of the top teams in the country”.
With this, Smith may be boosted by the news that it is expected that Unai Emery will name a much changed XI. Emile Smith-Rowe and Eddie Nketiah are amongst the names being touted for starting positions, with the Arsenal Manager confessing his want to allow his players “chances to play, chances to take confidence and minutes in the game.”
If Emile Smith-Rowe was to start it would be his full debut. The Croydon-born 18 year-old impressed during U23 and pre-season games, which resulted in him being offered a new long-term deal at the club. After an impressive cameo in the Europa League, he will be looking to make an even bigger mark on the first team against Brentford.
With an eye for goal and exceptional vision in the final third, Emile became well-known for his mazy runs and stunning individual goals. One in particular, against Atletico, made him a standout part of Arsenal’s ever-improving youth set-up.
Equally, Eddie Nketiah is also looking for his first start. Known for his deadly finishing, Eddie scored twice in 30 minutes, in an appearance in the same competition last year. Eddie also scored 12 goals in 13 games in the Premier League 2 last time around and so will be looking to make a similar impact should be play.
Arsenal will have to look out for Brentford’s star man, Neil Maupay, who has scored 8 goals and gained 3 assists over the course of the season so far. With Arsenals recent defensive frailties and a possible changed side, Maupay could be looking to attack at any given opportunity.
Arsenal 3 – 0 Brentford
Predicted Line – Ups:
Arsenal: Martinez; Lichtsteiner, Mustafi, Holding, Monreal; Elneny, Guendouzi, Willock; Smith-Rowe, Nketiah, Welbeck.
Brentford: Bentley; Dalsgaard, Konsa, Mepham, Barbet; McEachran, Macleod; Benrahma, Sawyers, Watkins; Maupay