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Arsenal vs. Blackpool: let the kids play

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Unai Emery should rotate the side heavily for the Carabao Cup 4th round tie.

Arsenal v Brentford - Carabao Cup Third Round
Unai Emery should give Emile Smith Rowe another start at striker on Wednesday.
Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Arsenal have a huge match this weekend against Liverpool that will serve as a measuring post for how much the team has progressed under Unai Emery. Before that, however, Blackpool travel to the Emirates in the 4th round of the Carabao Cup. The Seasiders saw off Championship side Queens Park Rangers in the 3rd round and currently sit 12th in EFL League One. That’s a full 56 places behind the Gunners.

Thus far in the cup competitions, Unai Emery has not rotated his squad much. Yes, he has started the subs and sprinkled in a few younger players, but the defense has basically been first-choice players, and he has used two or three first choice attackers each game as well. A midweek game against a League One opponent before a massive Premier League match at the weekend screams for significant rotation. I’m talking play the guys who don’t make the 18-man roster and call up the U-23’s.

Given the current injury crisis, Arsenal cannot afford to lose any more guys, especially in defense. Hector Bellerin, Nacho Monreal, Sead Kolasinac, Dinos Mavropanos, and Laurent Koscielny are all unavailable. Sokratis recently came off an injury. Ainsley Maitland-Niles played for the U-23’s on Friday night but was reportedly rusty. And just for good measure, Mohamed Elneny, who can deputize in defense, is also out.

Were I setting the lineup, it would look something like: Leno, Maitland-Niles, Holding, U23 centerback, Jenkinson, Ramsey, Guendouzi, Welbeck, Mkhitaryan, Willock, Smith Rowe.

I suspect, however, that Unai Emery will use more first team players and the actual starting lineup will be: Leno, Maitland-Niles, Holding, Mustafi, Jenkinson, Ramsey, Guendouzi, Aubameyang, Mkhitaryan, Welbeck, Smith Rowe.

How would you like to see Arsenal line up on Wednesday?

WHAT: Arsenal vs. Blackpool

WHERE: The Emirates

WHEN: Wednesday, October 31st 12:45 PM PT | 3:45 PM ET | 7:45 PM BT

US TV: Not televised. Streaming on ESPN+.

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