Date: 23rd September 2008 at 5:40am
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This is a competition unlike any other for Arsenal fans, where the extremely promising reserve and youth team players get a chance to shine in the first team against players 10+ years older than themselves. Arsene has turned this competition into something that excites fans in a completely different way than regular Arsenal games. Some might say he is disrespecting the competition, but I think he is putting life into it.

Many managers have tried to recreate the success that Arsene has found in this competition but to no avail. When Manchester United plays their reserves, they get dumped out unceremoniously by teams of poor quality. Though this is the only domestic competition Arsene has yet to win with Arsenal.

Vital Quotes:

Arsenal boasted in his pre-match quotes about the youthfulness of his squad. “There is a possibility [it will be the youngest side ever],” said Wenger. “In the first team there are many players around 20. In the Carling Cup we will keep a few in there but the side will be more between 16 and 19. At Arsenal you can say 20 and 21-year-olds are the experienced players.

“You are likely to see Gavin Hoyte, Abu Ogogu, Aaron Ramsey, Mark Randall, Jack Wilshere, Fran Merida and Carlos Vela. Maybe Bendtner will play. Song, Djourou and Lukasz Fabianski will be the experienced players. But you will have players like Emmanuel Frimpong and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas so it will be a very young side.”

Mark Randall talked about his eagerness to impress Le Boss. “Jack playing against Blackburn just proves that the boss will play young English players if they`re good enough,” said Randall. “Everyone talks about the number of foreigners in our team but that means nothing. If you`re good enough you`ll play, English or not.

“This is a big season for me because I`m older now. I need to get as many games as possible under my belt, in the first team especially, just to make me stronger and a better player.

“There is a buzz about it [the Carling Cup]. But at the end of the day we`re all professional, we`ve still got to work, we have to do exactly the same in any game that we play and we have to give 100 per cent in training every day.

“In a way there is [one eye on the Sheffield United tie], because it`s a big game for us. But you`ve just got to keep focused and keep working hard.”

Sheffield boss Kevin Blackwell is worried about his injury situation. Blackwell told BBC Radio Sheffield: ‘It’s a bit of a dilemma, because I’ve used the cup to get some of the lads fit.

‘But with the injuries, numbers are down so my options are limited.’

Arsenal Team News:

I’m not going to pretend to know much about these kids, you will have to check Young Guns for that. So just refer to Wenger’s quotes above to know who should be involved.

Player to watch: Jack Wilshere

Arsene has confirmed that the young Englishman will get his first start for the club. Unfortunately the media’s eyes will be watching him like a hawk. But if he performs like he did against Juventus, Real Madrid, and Stuttgart in the preseason then he will have absolutely no problem with the extra attention. He is the most exciting player to rise through the Arsenal youth system in a very long time. He plays with the confidence and panache of a player much more mature than he really is. When you watch Jack play you can’t help but be left in awe.

It will also be interesting to see how Ramsey fits into the main creative role in the centre of midfield.

Sheffield United Team News:

One positive for the Blades is that Premier League veteran James Beattie will be fit to start. Darius Henderson and Matthew Spring are out injured, while Sun Jihai is suspended. Lee Hendrie, Keith Gillespie and Danny Webber have all been tipped to start.

Player to watch: James Beattie

I’m not to familiar with the Sheffield squad but this man has been a constant threat in England’s top division for some time now. He will surely pose a problem for Arsenal’s very young defense.

Match Prediction

I can see this one maybe turning into a shootout. Arsenal will have a frighting attack but I am not sure about our defense. Other than Song and Djourou, our defense and midfield will be very lightweight and inexperienced. I could see this being a potential problem for Arsenal.

Im going to go with a 4-2 win for Arsenal. Bendtner x2, Vela, and Wilshere

Next Fixtures:

27/9– Hull City– Premier League

30/9– FC Porto– Champions League

4/9– Sunderland– Premier League