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WBA v Arsenal, Match Preview: Youthful Gunners squad face tough challenge

A young Arsenal squad travel to the Hawthorns to take on WBA in the 3rd round of the Capital One Cup.

Robertus Pudyanto

WBA v Arsenal
Capital One Cup, 3rd Round
September 25, 2013. Kickoff: 2:45 PM EDT/11:45 AM PDT/7:45 PM BST
TV: Arsenal Player (delay)

A young Arsenal squad travel to the Hawthorns to face West Bromwich Albion tonight in the 3rd round of the Capital One Cup. With Theo Walcott now bringing the list of first team absentees to 7, and with crucial games coming up, starting with Swansea away on Saturday and Napoli next Tuesday, Arsene Wenger is set to rotate heavily.

There are several senior players who will start: Nacho Monreal, Carl Jenkinson, Thomas Vermaelen and Per Mertesacker look set to start in defence, with Monreal making his second start of the season and Vermaelen continuing his return from banishment and back injury. Either Lukasz Fabianski or new signing Emiliano Viviano will be in goal, with Fabianski the favourite.

None of Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere or Mesut Özil are in the squad, but Matheiu Flamini is, and will likely start. Emmanuel Frimpong misses out, but Mikel Arteta is in the squad, and will probably start ahead of the Swansea and Napoli matches. The spine of Arsenal's team, and their defensive players will be fairly experienced, but the experimentation and inexperience will come up front. Nicklas Bendtner will make his first start in 18 months for the club, replacing Olivier Giroud, who is rested. Serge Gnabry, now Arsenal's first choice right-winger, will likely start, as will Ryo Miyaichi, who showed some flashes of being able to add *something* when he came on as a sub on Sunday.

The last position is up for grabs. Thomas Eisfeld and Kris Olsson have been named in the squad, and could both play #10, though Olsson has played deeper for the U-21s and U-19s, and Eisfeld is not a traditional play-maker. The last spot could also go to Chuba Akpom if Arsenal were to play 4-4-2. Another option is starting some guy called "Ju-Young Park", who I have never heard of in my entire life. Is he a hologram?

West Brom will also play a mix of youth and experience. Players of the likes of Stephane Sessegnon and Chris Brunt might not start, but with Matej Vydra, Morgan Amalfitano and Graham Dorrans, there are players who can cause Arsenal problems. Arsenal could lose tonight, but in the end, that's not the biggest issue in the world. Seeing how Arteta, Vermaelen, Bendtner and Gnabry get on is far more important.