Arsenal v Doncaster preview as Rovers set to bring more than 5,000 fans – but boss Darren Ferguson says: ‘We’re not going to Emirates for a night out’
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It’s a case of Arsene Wenger versus ‘Ferguson’ on Wednesday evening as Arsenal face Doncaster Rovers at the Emirates – except his rival will be Darren, not his father Sir Alex.
Wenger’s men take on Rovers in the third round of the Carabao Cup as the North Londoners bid to lift the trophy for the first time since 1993.
As ever the team will be a mix of coltish youngsters, experienced fringe players and a big name star or two looking for fitness and game time.
Tonight is no different as Wenger could use Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere,
But gone are the mind games, as Ferguson jr has been full of praise for the long-serving Frenchman this week – a far cry from the psychological battles his father tried to inflict on the Arsenal boss when Manchester United played the Gunners.
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Gone too are the days when the world would stop to watch Wenger v Ferguson – although with Arsenal ‘hosting’ more than 11,000 Cologne fans last week, it is understood the visitors from the Keepmoat Stadium will be taking more than 5,000 from South Yorkshire contributing to a crowd of more than 45,000 at the very least. All happily ensconced in the officially designated away end too it has to be added.
Speaking to his club’s official website the younger Ferguson said: “Arsene Wenger is a fantastic manager and to do it at the top level of the game for so long is incredible and I have the upmost respect for him, I am looking forward to managing against him.
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“I want – and certainly the players want – to come up against the best players Arsenal have, it’s a chance for us to test ourselves against some of the best players in Europe,” said Ferguson.
“We have to make sure we go to the Emirates and put on a performance for the fans.
“We will try and stay in the game for as long as we can, but we have to appreciate we are coming up against, no matter what team it is, a very good one.”
The last time the clubs faced each other was in Christmas week 2005 in the same tournament.
It was the quarter-finals when a 119th-minute equaliser from Gilberto Silva made it 2-2 sending the game to penalties.
Arsenal eventually won 3-1 in the shoot-out against Dave Penney’s men at the long-departed Belle Vue in from of 10,006 fans.
The only survivor from either side is James Coppinger and his boss Ferguson is bullish ahead of tonight’s game.
He said: “Stranger things have happened in these competitions, us going there and winning the game would be a shock but that’s what we are going to try and do, we are not going there for a night out.
“We are going there to try and get a result, of course it is going to be difficult but it is not out of our reach, and hopefully if the result is right it would give my players the belief for the rest of the season.”
As a footnote the Arsenal team that night in Yorkshire is a salutary lesson in how players from that era fell by the wayside. Perhaps another article should be angled around ‘Where are they now’?
Almunia, Eboue, Senderos, Djourou, Cygan, Hleb, Song Billong, Silva, Owusu-Abeyie (Larsson 78), Van Persie (Bendtner 33), Lupoli (Gilbert 106).
Subs Not Used: Poom, Muamba.
Goals: Owusu-Abeyie 63, Silva 120.