Wenger to blood rising stars
ARSENAL'S Carling Cup third-round match is one of the highlights of every football autumn, writes Jack Pitt-Brooke.
The tournament and the club have a particular importance to each other, as Arsene Wenger uses it to bring through his next generation of teenage footballers.
Jack Wilshere and Wojciech Szczesny were both introduced to the Arsenal first team in the League Cup; the practice has helped to smooth the transition of generations of players into the Arsenal team. Tonight it begins again, as Shrewsbury Town are welcomed to the Emirates.
"We have a big squad now and we want to make use of that squad," Wenger said yesterday. "I will give a chance for young players to shine and find the right mixture in this competition between keeping our faith in young players and, of course, winning the games."
For years the tournament has been a crucial part of the Arsenal production line; a finishing school for promising reserve players, as well as a sterner test of their first-team credentials.
The chances are that many of those seen at the Emirates this evening will not still be at Arsenal in four years' time. But that is an inherent aspect of young footballers: not all of them do make it, and the next Szczesny or Wilshere could well be on view tonight. (© Independent News Service)