It’s an important week for Arsenal.
First up is Östersunds at the Emirates in mid-week Europa League action. Then on Sunday it’s the Carabao Cup Final at Wembley Stadium.
Arsenal returned from Sweden last week with a three goal cushion in their Round of 32 tie. For all intents and purposes, this match is pretty much done and dusted. Barring a disastrous meltdown, the Gunners should move on to the Round of 16.
With Manchester City waiting (twice in a row!) in the wings, Arsene Wenger must be intelligent with his starting lineup versus the Swedes. This is an opportunity for the youngsters and secondary players to prove their worth. Starters such as Mesut Ozil, Shkodran Mustafi and Nacho Monreal should all be rested.
Danny Welbeck will most likely get another start up front. His chances have been few and he is in desperate need of a confidence boost. This is an opportunity Welbeck needs to take.
Also expected to start is Henrikh Mkhitaryan. The Armenian is cup-tied and will be relied upon to control Arsenal’s midfield and help wrap up the contest.
Sead Kolasinac should get an opportunity to play a role. The Bosnian appears to have lost favor with Wenger after starting off the season strong.
While Östersunds should not be taken lightly, the real focus this week is on the League Cup. It is a chance for Arsenal to pick up some silverware in what has been a sub-par season. In fact it’s the only domestic trophy that Wenger has yet to win.
Pep Guardiola’s team come in to the Carabao Cup Final wounded. The pain of their surprise exit from the FA Cup at the hands of Wigan is still fresh. I’m not sure if this will benefit Arsenal or not. Maybe it’s put a dent in City’s confidence. However, it may also have inspired them to go all out.