Oh yeah, the League Cup is a thing …

It’s Carabao Cup action for the first time this season when we take on Brighton in the Emirates.

Given how well this season has gone so far in Premier League terms, this competition feels less relevant and important than ever. However, I think it’s very much a fan perspective on this. Mikel Arteta is building a culture at this club where every game is important, every game matters and every game must be won. So I think he’s going to approach this with a seriousness that maybe a lot of us don’t really feel.

There’s plenty of room for rotation, but given that we’re up against a Premier League side likely to invest more in a cup race than we do, this isn’t going to be, as James joked on the Arsecast Extra: “Ethan Nwaneri and his School friends.”

Speaking to the official site, the manager said:

“We are going to choose a very competitive team. I think everyone deserves chances and we will make some judicious changes in relation to player load, but we will play to win.

“Those who have not played want to have their chance and feel that they are contributing to the team. The positive is that they have all played games and they have all been important.

“We have two games left and the focus has to be there because we know that after that we have a big breather”.

Still, ‘very competitive’ could mean something like: Turner, Cedric, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney, Elneny, Lokonga, Vieira, Nelson, Marquinhos, Nketiah.

That’s a team with plenty of full caps, but enough rotation to keep plenty of regulars fresh for the Wolves. My suspicion is that we might see one or two more ‘first team’ players for this one, but I’m not sure who exactly.

When you’re trying to instill a culture of success, you don’t get to choose which games you show up to. Players can’t approach a prop thinking ‘Oh, this one doesn’t really matter.’ We have seen how seriously Man City have taken this competition over the years, and while I think they have generally had a team that is much deeper and more capable of rotating, particularly in the early stages, I think Arteta sees this as a chance to win a trophy and as such will compartmentalize this game in that context.

As for tonight’s result, it’s strange. I can never, ever expect Arsenal to lose. I always want us to win, but there are some games that are more painful to lose than others. This is pretty low on the pain scale, but like I said earlier, I think it’s very much a fan’s perspective.

Compared to other matches this season, it feels a bit stress-free, so that might reflect on our performance this season. The Europa League group stage didn’t set the world on fire or anything, but surely some of these guys will be itching to impress, even if we’re on the cusp of a World Cup break. It won’t be a walk in the park either, Brighton have been a fun team to watch this season (especially when they take points off Liverpool and Chelsea), so it could be an entertaining cup tie.

Let’s see what happens!

As always, we’ll have live blog coverage for you and all the post-game stuff on Arseblog News.

For some more reading this morning, Lewis takes a look at Oleksandr Zinchenko’s role against Chelsea in a new tactics column, and there’s a new Arsenal Women Arsecast available here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Okay, that’s it, see you later for the game.

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