Arsenal need right mix for Chelsea cup clash

Posted by John Cross

Arsene Wenger has already promised to rest and rotate his squad for the Capital One Cup tie with Chelsea on Tuesday night.

Wenger said on Saturday, after Arsenal's win at Crystal Palace, he would pick a team to give him a "good chance to qualify."

Never mind that, or the fact that ticket prices have been reduced. Arsenal need to really prioritise and win this game. More than that, they need to win the whole thing.

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Wenger does not rate the FA Cup or League Cup as highly as finishing in the top four. That's understandable in a way, as the Champions League offers rich rewards and it means you can attract big names.

But it's now eight years since Arsenal won a trophy. And what trophy was that? The FA Cup.

So it doesn't really matter that much what the trophy is to fans or reporters like me. Just as long as they win a piece of silverware.

The majority of Arsenal fans want Wenger to stay and sign a new deal. I'm pretty sure he will. But the need for silverware should not be ignored.

Of course every fan wants the Premier League or Champions League. But to rest players in preparation for Liverpool and then Borussia Dortmund is a risky strategy.

Last season, Wenger rested a few against Blackburn in the FA Cup, got knocked out and still got battered by Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

Equally, Arsenal played a strong team at Bradford and still lost on penalties. They have come close in the last few seasons in this competition, losing to Chelsea and Birmingham City in the final on separate occasions.

It's been a good breeding ground for Arsenal as well. There are some good youngsters knocking on the door this season, like Serge Gnabry, and the big hope for the future is Gedion Zelalem.

But while they are both likely to have big first-team futures ahead of them, this is surely not a time to gamble on too many others. They need to beat Chelsea and progress.

If you think about it, the back four is likely to be strong. Carl Jenkinson, Nacho Monreal, Thomas Vermaelen and possibly Per Mertesacker as in the last round. There could also be a chance for Nicklas Bendtner.

But there should be a need for experience and quality. Tomas Rosicky, for example. Chelsea are going to rest a few themselves. But at Swindon in the last round, their second string consisted of Juan Mata, David Luiz and Willian. That's one hell of a second string.

Yes, Arsenal want to save players for Liverpool. But losing to Chelsea will hurt players ahead of the Liverpool game -- even if they're not playing. And it will upset the fans, too.


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