Wenger gets 'serious' about League Cup with big guns to face Wigan
Arsenal go into tonight's League Cup quarter-final with Wigan suggesting that they will maintain their renewed commitment to the competition, despite a hectic schedule in recent months.
After years of playing younger sides in the League Cup, Arsene Wenger has reverted to playing stronger teams this season, and has been rewarded with two notable away wins, at Tottenham and Newcastle.
While acknowledging that some players will have to be rested by virtue of the fact that tonight's match is Arsenal's eighth in November, Wenger has pledged to play as strong a team as possible.
"The only thing I promise is that we will take the tie seriously," said Wenger. "But I have to consider how many games my players play.
"For six weeks we have played every three days with Champions League and internationals. I will consider who needs to play and who needs to rest."
Arsenal have, alongside Manchester United, been stretched by the demands of playing in both the League Cup and the Champions League on top of their league commitments in this campaign.
Nevertheless, Wenger has played stronger sides than usual in the League Cup this season, with good results. Arsenal won 4-1 at Spurs before routing Newcastle 4-0 at St James' Park.
A number of established names started both games, including Emmanuel Eboue, Laurent Koscielny, Denilson and Tomas Rosicky. Eboue is back in the squad after recovering quicker than expected from a knee injury, while Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott are both expected to start tonight.
This could well be a function of an increased desire to win a major trophy, Arsenal not having won anything since the 2005 FA Cup. They were knocked out at the quarter-final stage in both of the last two seasons, losing 3-0 at Manchester City 12 months ago, and 2-0 at Burnley in 2008.
Tonight's opponents Wigan knocked Arsenal out at the semi-final stage in 2006. After a 1-0 defeat in Lancashire in the first leg, Arsenal levelled through Thierry Henry at home and went ahead through Van Persie in extra-time. But Jason Roberts' 119th-minute winner sent Wigan to their first major final.
Wigan welcome back Paraguay international Antolin Alcaraz after a suspension, although top scorer Hugo Rodallega is still banned. Gary Caldwell and Emmerson Boyce are injury doubts while, James McCarthy has been ruled out. (© Independent News Service)
Arsenal (probable, 4-3-3) -- Almunia; Eboue, Koscielny, Djourou, Gibbs; Denilson, Wilshere, Rosicky; Walcott, Van Persie, Bendtner.
Wigan (4-5-1) -- Al Habsi; Stam, Gohouri, Alcaraz, Figueroa; Gomez, Diame, Thomas, Cleverley, N'Zogbia; Boselli.