Early-round matches in competitions like the Capital One Cup have allowed fans, in the past, to get a glimpse of the future stars of Arsenal.
Before it was vogue to trot out the shining stars of the youth academy in this competition, showing off to other clubs the progress being made from within, Arsene Wenger routinely fielded squads featuring the best youth players at the time. Players like Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs, and many others, have gotten some of their first tastes of first-team action in the League Cup, so it's with little shock that Wenger has hinted a couple academy players, such as Isaac Hayden or Semi Ajayi, will get a run-about in tonight's Capital One Cup third-round encounter versus fellow EPL side Southampton.
However, the biggest news heading into the cup match will be the return of Abou Diaby from injury. He played the full 90 minutes in the U-21 match versus Aston Villa on September 11th, and he's expected to get a full match under his belt tonight assuming he doesn't, well...you know.
The BBC reckons players that have routinely sat on the bench to start the season will start on the pitch tonight, including Joel Campbell, Tomas Rosicky, and Lukas Podolski. The selection of the midfielders and forwards won't be, though, as big of a headache for Wenger as will naming the starters for the back line. The assumption (nay, hope) is that Hayden and Ajayi start at center back. From there, it gets dicey quickly, if rotation and rest will be a priority heading into this weekend's North London Derby. With injuries mounting up and numbers thin in defense, it's TSF's hope that Wenger opts to start Golden Corral somewhere tonight.
Starting lineups and bench:
.@Arsenal team to play Southampton: Ospina, Bellerin, Chambers, Hayden, Coquelin, Rosicky, Diaby, Wilshere, Alexis, Campbell, Podolski— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) September 23, 2014
Prediction: Arsenal 2-1 Southampton