Arsenal gamble on youthful line-up in Carling Cup
Carling Cup third round, Arsenal v Shrewsbury Town, Emirates Stadium, 7.45pm
Arsene Wenger will give full debuts to teenage duo Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Ryo Miyaichi tonight and believes Arsenal fans will witness something special.
The pair are set to start in the third round Carling Cup clash against Shrewsbury Town at the Emirates as Wenger keeps faith with his principle of blooding youngsters in the competition.
“We have a big squad now and we want to make use of that squad,” said Wenger on the eve of the game. “I will give a chance for young players to shine and find the right mixture in this competition between keeping our faith in young players and, of course, winning the games. That means having the right balance between experience and youth.
“We will have [Emmanuel] Frimpong, [Francis] Coquelin, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ryo, and maybe one or two more. There is an also opportunity to see [Ju-Young] Park for the first time.”
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Japanese starlet Ryo, 18, is yet to figure for the Gunners having originally signed back in January and then sent out on loan to Dutch club Feyenoord for the remainder of last season.
However, he impressed in pre-season, and despite his tender age and lack of experience, Wenger feels tonight’s League Two opposition is the right time for a debut.
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“We have to give him [Ryo] time and not put too much pressure on him but he is a fantastic player,” said Wenger.
“A year ago, Ryo came here for a trial and we decided to sign him. We want to do things properly with him and not to rush him too much. Ryo has pace, attitude, efficiency in what he is doing and complete commitment.”
Oxlade-Chamberlain, 18, came off the bench for a brief debut towards the end of the 8-2 humiliation at Old Trafford. While he has been compared to another teenager snapped up from Southampton, Theo Walcott, Wenger is adamant that the similarity between the two St Mary’s exports stops there.
“He [Oxlade-Chamberlain] likes more to be in the build-up of things and Walcott is more a guy who makes intelligent runs.
“So they are not that similar as players but they have some similarities physically already. They look the same size, the same type of player.
“But I believe that Oxlade-Chamberlain could be a central midfielder one day and Walcott a central striker one day. That shows the difference between the two players.”
“You should be excited by Oxlade-Chamberlain, because he is a great talent”
Wenger admitted that the scars of Saturday’s 4-3 defeat at Blackburn could still be felt, and that bouncing back with victory is the only way to move forward.
“It’s very important we bounce back. The Blackburn game was very disappointing and frustrating. I must say that the disappointments and frustrations are huge.
“We feel that we have given that game away, not that we have lost the game. There is nothing worse in our job than having that feeling.
“I personally want to focus on the positives because there is huge potential in this team. We had 22 shots on goal, 61 per cent of the possession. Our season depends now on how well we respond to this disappointment and how quickly we can cut out the mistakes we made on Saturday by giving away goals that we should never give away.”
However, the Gunners boss was adamant that his side will turn things around, and paid tribute to the club’s supporters ahead of tonight’s game which is the first of three at home in the space of nine days.
“The fans are fantastic,” added Wenger. “Again on Saturday in Blackburn, there were thousands of Arsenal fans at Ewood Park. We need to be united and I am very grateful for their attitude on Saturday. They were absolutely fantastic.
“The team has a good spirit, a good mentality, a good attitude and that will come out longer term. We have had a bad start but I believe we can bounce back and be very strong this season.”
Arsenal probable starting XI: Fabianski, Jenkinson, Miquel, Djourou, Gibbs, Coquelin, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Miyaichi, Benayoun, Park, Chamakh.
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