Quick aside from today’s match preview blog: The FA seeing fit to accept the mistakes of their officials, whilst rightfully banning a clear cheat? Has some sort of sense been seen at The Association’s HQ? Or was it just some sort of glitch in the Matrix? Whatever it was, justice has been done and we’ve got one of our form players from this shirt season so far, back to play in the team. 

Ordinarily I’d wake up on a day like today and feel the numbing and nervous sensation in the pit of my stomach, what with it being a North London Derby n’all, but as tonight is that of the League Cup variety I find myself a little bit more excited than nervous.

It’s a good feeling. I like it. I’d probably go as far as to say I prefer it to the feeling of when we play that lot in the league of FA Cup. During those times I can’t sleep properly the night before, I am distracted all day and it is only after plenty of The Mead of Men that I loosen up and get excited about the game.

That’s the beauty of the League Cup. It affords you licence to shrug off a defeat because of the inevitable rotation it affords the manager to do. He’s long said asserted that this competition is fourth in the line of four trophies we’re after and, having only reached the final twice (that I can remember) in his reign as manager, it’s easy to see that this belief rings true in Arsène.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be tuning in and hoping we smash that ‘orrible lot from Sh*te Hart Lane (especially as I’m soon to go on a stag do full of dirty Spurs fans), but I’ll do it from the comfort of my home with a glass of rum and a lot less worry than I normally do. 

And if we lose, the stock phrase used by football fans of the big clubs is ready, willing and able.

After all, it’s ‘only’ the League Cup, isn’t it?

Should I be more up for it though? After all, it is a cup final waiting at the end, is it not? Plus the added incentive of meeting up with friends who are Spuddies. Perhaps I should take it more seriously?

Arsène has hinted he’ll take it more seriously, by promising that there will be a more experienced line up that will take to the field at 7.45pm. No longer is this competition one to fire as many kids in as possible, it seems, as it has instead assumed the role of a rotational opportunity for the larger squads in the league. And hey, I’m ok with that, because even experienced players of 28, 29 or 30 will find themselves out of sync if they don’t get game time. There’s plenty of people who are already writing football obituaries on some of the players in the Arsenal squad, but I recall the same for Monreal and Santi, yet both find themselves as invaluable for the first XI now. 

There’s no substitute for games and that’s why perhaps we’ll see a better performance from some of the squad players than we saw against Zagreb, where some had barely played any football all season. Hopefully that game got the rustiness out of their system and we can see them out on a display tonight.

I suspect the line up will be very similar to the one that started in Croatia actually. Ospina to resume his position in between the sticks, Debuchy and Gibbs to get the nod at full back, I suspect we’ll see a return of Mertesacker and also Chambers at centre half. 

Anchoring the midfield will be Arteta and then the decision has to be whether or not Flamini will play, or whether Arsène goes for Ramsey in the centre with Arteta has the holding midfielder. I’m not too sure about that, personally, as Rambo isn’t exactly as grand at ball retention as Santi and so a base of the midfield like that wouldn’t exactly inspire me with confidence.

Le Boss could opt for The Ox in that Santi role with Rambo in the Özil number ten, but in our half of the pitch The Ox’s ball retention is probably worse than Rambo’s, so again I’m not quite sure how that would work.

It’s funny, I always think that we’re overstocked with little creative midfielders who can be interchangeable, but when we need them, it’s hard working out which ones would fit in the system to ensure we have enough balance. It’s just a shame Rosicky is injured, because he’d probably be a perfect Santi replacement. 

The front three will surely have Giroud and given Campbell’s recent couple of sub appearances, I’d have thought him and given Arsène’s recent comments about Iwobi, I wonder if he’ll get the nod wide left. It’s a good position for him to be bedded in to, because there’s not as much pressure from a defensive position for him, yet he’s not a focal point in attack. Hopefully, assuming he starts, he can take advantage of being in the spotlight of the first team.

Working out which Spud players will make the first XI is difficult. Verthongen has intimated that the manager is thinking about taking the competition seriously and given they got to the final last season, I can believe that. If that is the case, then I’d expect this to be a tough evening. I don’t think those Spud players are technically better, but they will have had more of an opportunity to get game time, find their rhythm and as a result will probably look a little bit more cohesive for the game. But if Pochettino rotates to a fair enough extent, then I think we have a real good chance of capitalising.

It’s a tough one to call until you know which players are playing for both teams, but it’s one in which we could really do with a win, because defeat leaves us with three on the bounce and confidence will be pretty low going in to a weekend game against a Leicester team riding high on the stuff.

Come one Arsenal, let’s do this.