Arsenal take on Tottenham in the Carabao Cup Quarter-Finals at the Emirates tonight.
It’s the second meeting between the two clubs this season with the Gunners triumphing over their bitter rivals 4-2 in the Premier League earlier in the month thanks to a brace from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and goals from Lucas Torreira and Alexandre Lacazette.
Unai Emery’s side have been in fine form this season having gone 22 games unbeaten in all competitions. However, the run was finally ended on Sunday afternoon after the Gunners were defeated by Southampton 3-2 at the St. Mary’s Stadium. On top of this, Emery has suddenly had to deal with limited options at the back due to an injury crisis that has swept the Emirates.
Meanwhile, Tottenham eked out a 1-0 win over Burnley in their latest match and find themselves third in the Premier League and just six points behind table leaders Liverpool.
The Carabao Cup has taken much priority from either side in recent seasons, with both fielding weaker teams to progress through the stages. However, both might take a different approach tonight as there is Semi-Final place at stake and it being a North London Derby.
But Emery will be without Rob Holding, Konstantinos Mavropanos and Danny Welbeck for the foreseeable future. Hector Bellerin is also unlikely to feature having picked up a knock over the weekend against the Saints, while both Sead Kolasinac, Shkodran Mustafi and Ainsley Maitland-Niles will be assessed before the game.
Nonetheless, Emery and Arsenal should take this competition seriously as it is a realistic trophy the club can triumph in.
With that said and taking injuries into account and Arsenal’s next game coming on Saturday at home against Burnley, here is the side that I believe Emery should select tonight:
Mustafi Sokratis Koscielny
Petr Cech should start in goal ahead of Bernd Leno.
If Mustafi is available, then the German should start in a back three alongside Sokratis and Laurent Koscielny.
The wing-back positions should be occupied by (if fit) Kolasinac (if not) then Nacho Monreal and Stephan Lichtsteiner, while in midfield should be Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi. Granit Xhaka may well start, but I think Guendouzi offers more fight and is more composed on the ball than the Swiss midfielder.
Aaron Ramsey should also start as he knows and has played in many NLD’s before.
Upfront, Emery should go for an Aubameyang and Lacazette partnership.