The Carling Cup Semi-Finals kickoff for Arsenal today as the Gunners face their old enemy sp*rs in the first leg at Emirates Stadium. As expected Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has named a fairly young squad but has also sprinkled in some more familiar names into the lineup. It is good to see that Robin van Persie has been named to the team hopefully he his fully fit and his recent bout with injury is something he can put behind him. The other strikers named are the fantastically in form Eduardo and the "Great Dane" Nicklas Bendtner. I must admit that Eduardo has really proved himself as a smooth and clinical finisher the past month. He just seems to calmly place the ball into the back of the net. Theo Walcott returns and I expect him to have a presence on the wing. Denilson and Gilberto appear to be the ones called upon to create and hold down the midfield. The center of defense will apparently be held down by our Swiss duo of Philippe Senderos and the recently recalled from loan Johan Djourou. The boss has also included Bacary Sagna who has fitted in so well this season it is hard to believe that this is his first year with Arsenal. The goalkeeping responsibilities will be handled by Lukasz Fabianski, I really liked his quote when asked about being given his opportunity.
"It is a big, big game for me, the fans and for everybody who is a Gunner. It will be another chance to show my ability and how I am looking. I am ready for that and cannot wait. For the Arsenal fans, it is a big thing to win against Tottenham."
Good words indeed from the man who may soon be our number 2 choice keeper if Jens Lehmann decides to pick up stakes and leave the club. Speaking of comings and goings it is interesting to see the unsettled Lassana Diarra left off the squad sheet, perhaps there is a move for him in the very near future.
Recent results for the club have been fantastic. Last weekend saw the Gunners see off a rather plucky and determined Burnley side 2-0 in the third round of the FA Cup. Goals from Eduardo and Bendtner ensured our passage. Speaking of the FA Cup, the draw was held for the 4th round and Arsenal will play either Newcastle United or Stoke City. Newcastle and Stoke played to a Nil-Nil draw so a replay will be played the weekend of January 26. If Newcastle win then that means that the Gunners will have two home games against them in the span of three days. Alternately, given the way Stoke played, which was very well organized, and the amount of turbulence at St. James Park I am kind if leaning towards playing Newcastle in the next round.
Either way it's up to the young guns (and some older ones) to see off the old enemy today at the Emirates, here's hoping that the first leg makes the second leg irrelavent.