Right, so after the small matter of Manchester City away and before the equally small matter of Chelsea at home comes Arsenal’s toughest test of the season so far, Coventry City in the Capital One Cup tonight.
Jokes aside and with due respect to the Sky Blues, the Gunners are firm favorites. It’s a difficult time for the visitors, manager Mark Robins is just a week old in the job and Coventry City are yet to register a victory after ten games this season. On top of that, they are on a dismal run of four successive defeats that have left them languishing one place off the bottom of the table. To make matters worse, David McGoldrick, their most impressive player is cup-tied while our own Conor Henderson, who’s on loan, is ineligible to play.
Statistically too, everything points to a Gunners victory. In the 16 years Arsene Wenger has been in charge, only twice has he tasted defeat to non-Premier League opponents in the League Cup. The last of those defeats came on a cold December evening in 2008 at the home of then Championship high-flyers Burnley.
That day Wilshere, Ramsey and Gibbs all started for Arsenal while Mannone, Coquelin and Frimpong were unused subs. If proof was required that domestic cup campaigns are ideal playgrounds for developing youngsters then these six are perfect examples – all of them an integral part of the first team squad nowadays. As in previous years, the manager will be keen to use the opportunity to not only gauge the development of Arsenal’s emerging talent but also to give these young footballers a taste of the big stage.