Tonight Arsenal will look to increase their 11 game undefeated run to 12 in the League Cup against Reading. It will be the usual run out for 2nd strings players, to keep them sharp and match ready. We will also likely see the return of Aaron Ramsey, Olivier Giroud and Carl Jenkinson.
Ramsey has not been seen since the opening day 4-3 defeat against Liverpool. Hobbling off after 61 minutes. The negative nancies moaned that he was rushed back from the European Championship – whilst also moaning that Laurent Koscielny did not play.
His return to full fitness has been slow and calculated. Until yesterday, his drive in the middle of the park has not been missed. So good has Arsenal’s form been since his injury that Arsenal had no need to rush him back. Wenger instead deciding to give him a full pre-season.
Ramsey’s return will be well timed. With Santi Cazorla picking up a late, and not yet disclosed, injury which ruled him out of the Middlesbrough game, it is not fully clear how long he is sidelined for. With tough games against Spurs and Man U coming up, Aaron Ramsey’s extra defensive attributes will be well utilised.
Olivier Giroud is finally set to return from being out with a broken penis toe.
Whilst he is not everyone’s cup of tea, he was missed again Boro at the weekend. His return does give Arsenal a plan B, or an alternative plan A. His strength, aerial ability and hold up play is something that no one else in the squad provides, and he is a welcome return.
It will also be good to finally see Carl Jenkinson make a return in an Arsenal shirt. He might not have the talent to ever be first choice right back, having a player who is Arsenal through and through in the squad is a benefit. And he is good enough to play against 60% of Premier League sides, as he showed for West Ham.
He has not played since January, and it will be good to get him back to full fitness to provide cover for Hector Bellerin. A popular member of the squad, his return will give the side a boost.
Alongside the returning 3, it will be the usual suspects in the other positions.
Cup keeper David Ospina will once again be in goal. Rob Holding and Gabriel will play between Jenkinson and Kieran Gibbs at centre back.
Francis Coquelin and Mohamed Elneny will continue in the middle of the park, with Ramsey playing behind Giroud up top. Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lucas Perez will be the wide men.
Probably line up:
Jenkinson Holding Gabriel Gibbs
Ox Ramsey Perez