Arsenal vs West Brom Final EFL CUP LIVE Football 2021
Forget that it’s the League Cup. Or that is it is against a Championship side. Wednesday is a must-win. This squad needs a victory, and maybe more so Arteta needs a victory. The options are limited — look at this missing XI: (Runarsson, Bellerin-White-Gabriel-Tierney, Partey-Torreira, Willian-?-Nketiah, Lacazette), outside of a #10 and the keeper, that’s a Premier League level lineup). But regardless, Arsenal has the quality to overcome these early-season setbacks and advance into the next round.
Nuno Tavares has looked a smart buy in his limited minutes as a substitute during the first two matches. He was likely set for his first start even before Tierney exited Sunday with a slight knock. His ability to step in will be key for Arsenal this season in order to avoid overplaying the constant injury borderline Tierney seemed to stay on last year. In the center, Arteta is forced to continue with Mari and Holding, unless he opts for Chambers as a CB and plays Cedric or Maitland-Niles at right-back instead.
Placing Odegaard in the starting lineup is a risk considering we haven’t got the official word that he has received visa clearance at the time of writing. Fingers crossed he is cleared because Smith Rowe should be rested or else Arteta may be forced to play Reiss Nelson there. If cleared, it should be easy for Odegaard to slip into the role considering he had half a season under Arteta last year.
Up top Aubameyang is the attractive option considering Arsenal’s issues turning shots into goals thus far this season, but it’s unlikely he is fit enough to start Wednesday and against Manchester City. Instead, Balogun should get his second start, which will allow Martinelli to slide out to the left where he is more comfortable and dangerous. Pepe’s experience, rather than a start for Nelson, on the other flank, is the best call in order to stretch West Brom’s defense and allow more space (and chance creation) for Balogun and Odegaard.
The Baggies will be without the services of Robert Snodgrass, who has been sidelined through injury. The Gunners remain without the services of Thomas Partey, Eddie Nketiah, and Gabriel Magalhães, who have all been ruled out through injuries. Alexandre Lacazette and Willian have tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss the game. Aaron Ramsdale could be handed his debut following his switch from Sheffield United.
It’s been a rough start on and off the pitch for Arsenal, opening with two straight defeats and dealing with numerous player injuries, COVID cases, and looming transfer deals away from North London. Would things be different Thomas Partey, Alex Lacazette, Ben White & Gabriel had started the season fit (plus a Hector Bellerin interested in staying)? Or if Martin Odegaard and Aaron Ramsdale had arrived earlier and were able to play in the first two matchdays? Perhaps, but it’s the reality of Arsenal’s situation.
On the positive side, the Ramsdale and Odegaard signings were completed. Sambi and Tavares have looked like quality purchases in these early matches. Partey, Lacazette, White, & Gabriel will all begin returning in the weeks ahead. Smith Rowe looks ready to take another step forward in his progression. And Bukayo Saka will be match-fit soon and back into the form we saw last season. But before all of that, the Gunners have a much-needed Premier League reprieve as they head to the Hawthorns for a Carabao Cup second-round tie this Wednesday.
West Brom kicked off the new season with a 2-2 draw against Bournemouth but have since marched to three consecutive victories in the second tier, with Luton Town, Sheffield United and most recently Blackburn falling to the Baggies’ superiority.
The less said about West Brom’s home fortunes in the 2020-21 Premier League season the better, but they have found the back of the net seven times in their opening two games at The Hawthorns this term and will surely have studied Arsenal’s defensive frailties ahead of this contest.
Not since the 2016-17 season have West Brom been knocked out in the second round – suffering a penalty-shootout defeat to Northampton Town – but they fell at the first round in the 2019-20 campaign and will surely prioritise immediate promotion rather than an unlikely cup run here.
Two sides who have endured very contrasting starts to their respective domestic seasons prepare for battle in the second round of the EFL Cup as West Bromwich Albion face Arsenal at The Hawthorns on Wednesday.
The Baggies claimed a 2-1 victory over Blackburn Rovers in the Championship at the weekend, while Arsenal’s woeful start continued with a 2-0 defeat to Chelsea.