North London derbies are normally pretty special, there’s an air of hatred amongst the two sets of fans with a lot of history behind the teams.
Naturally, then, you would expect both sets of supporters to be excited about tonight’s derby, except you would be wrong. Ask even the most die-hard of fans whether they’ll be devastated if their team lost tonight and you’ll probably get an indifferent answer.
That’s not to say they don’t care about tonight’s match, it’s just, well, it’s the League Cup. Playing a derby in the third round – first round possible for both teams –just isn’t the same as playing in the Premier League or FA Cup.
Of course losing to your arch rival is never acceptable, but the League Cup doesn’t exactly mean much to both sets of fans. Both teams are in the Champions League, and both will be looking towards the FA Cup as the premium domestic trophy this season.
As a result you can expect both teams to field weakened sides filled with the youngsters.
The Gunners have been doing so for the past 10 years with the intention of giving the younger players much needed first team experience. The likes of Cesc Fàbregas, Kieran Gibbs and Jack Wilshere have all used the Carling Cup as a stepping stone to bigger and better things.
Arsène Wenger has to decide by kick-off whether to accept the FA’s misconduct charge and sit out the game. If he does, the French tactician will be watching the game from the directors’ box, handing over the reins to assistant Pat Rice.
Wenger is likely going to use a blend on experience and youth tonight in a bid to give his side the best possible chance in a hostile environment. Barring any sort of late setbacks Johan Djourou will make his first start of the season and could be partnered by Havard Nordtveit if Wenger chooses to rest his regular defenders.
Gibbs will start at left-back and Emmanuel Eboue should start on the other side at right-back. There could also be a starting spot for Craig Eastmond, who started two league games towards the end of last season but signals point to Henri Lansbury getting the nod ahead of him.
Carlos Vela will lead the attack for the Gunners.
Harry Redknapp, too, has stated he will field a weakened side tonight but won’t fill it with youngsters, opting to use his whole squad.
Roman Pavlyuchenko should lead the frontline with Giovani Dos Santos behind him. David Bentley should start against the team he started his career at and Sandro is expected to make his debut in midfield.