Arsene Wenger will once again take a vastly in-experienced team to White Hart Lane on Tuesday as he looks to take his team to a second consecutive Carling Cup final.
For Arsenal it’s a chance to blood some youngsters and for Arsene Wenger to see what his kids are capable of. For Juande Ramos and Tottenham it’s a chance to get a rare win over Arsenal and progress to a Cup final.
Arsene may have to play one man that he would like to rest. William Gallas is on standby to play, as he is the only fit centre back at Arsenal at the moment.
It’s amazing what one result can do to the stats. It my last preview I mentioned that Arsenal had drawn half of their last 6 games. Today I inform you that Arsenal have won two thirds of their last six. Last six (all comps): P6 W4 D2 L0
The stats look quite the opposite for Arsenal’s opponents. They’ve won only two of their last six. Last Six (all comps): P6 W2 D2 L2.
Gus Poyet’s comments in the build up to the game should make Gooner’s realise just how important this game is to Tottenham. Juande Ramos’ right-hand-man claims this is their biggest game of the season so far: ‘I hope there will be a bigger game than this – in the final – but for now at this moment it’s the biggest game of the season for different reasons.
‘It’s all about making sure we get to the final – we believe we can and if we do it’s going to be a great night for everyone.
‘I won’t have to say anything to the players, it’s a perfect night for them to be involved – everyone will be desperate to play in this game.’
Poyet also says it doesn’t matter how his side reach the final: ‘Everyone knows we haven’t beaten Arsenal for a very long time.
‘We are convinced we can win and reach the final, it doesn’t matter how.’
Arsene Wenger speculated about the reasons for Tottenham not beating Arsenal for nearly nine years: ‘They played well in the first leg, we want to pay them back and qualify.
‘The draw continued our long unbeaten run against Tottenham and I don’t know why it should be that they haven’t beaten us for more than eight years.
‘They have always had good teams in that period, but we have been fighting for the title a lot in that time so we always have a high focus.
‘Maybe after a while it becomes psychological as well.
‘We will go there positively, looking for the win, and they will be too, so it is set up nicely.’
Tottenham Team News:
Darren Bent is still out with a ligament injury, while Bale, Assou-Ekotto and Gardener are all still out.
Steed Malbranque is back for Spurs after serving a suspension, while skipper Ledley King should return after being rested against Sunderland at the weekend.
Player to watch: Jermaine Jenas
Ashley Cole’s special friend has made a nasty habit of scoring against Arsenal, and being a general pain in the arse. His experience will count for something tomorrow depending on Arsene Wenger’s team selection.
Arsenal Team News:
Arsene Wenger has admitted he has no choice but to play William Gallas on Tuesday. That’s down to the fact that Toure and Song are away on international duty, while Djourou and Senderos are both injured. Justin Hoyte could partner Gallas after impressing there against Tottenham in the last leg. That would free up Gilberto to play in centre midfield.
Wenger confirmed before the game: ‘I will rotate the squad which means those that didn’t play on Saturday will play at Tottenham and after that I will complete it with first-team players. I will use William Gallas because I have no choice but Fabianski will play, Hoyte will play and the players that didn’t play against Fulham will all play. Walcott will feature as well.’
Robin Van Persie is still missing as he recovers from his thigh injury in Holland.
Player to watch: William Gallas
It’s not often I pick a defender as Arsenal’s player to watch, this may even be the first time.
His leadership skills will be absolutely key if Arsenal are to progress to the final. He is a big game player and Wenger will be hoping that he can become that ‘forgotten striker’ again if things don’t go our way.
I’m afriad my prediction will not make me too popular on Vital Arsenal, but I’m here to give my opinion, not tell people what they want to hear.
My money is on Spurs to progress. Arsenal were shappy for the majority of the first leg, and were rather lucky not to get beat. With Spurs at home, and their first team playing an Arsenal side comprised almost entirely of second string players, I think they’ll edge it.
Sorry Gooners, 2-1.