Arsenal have put together an impressive streak of four consecutive Premier League victories having lost their first two matches of the season, albeit against very difficult opposition.
The Carabao Cup tie at the Emirates tomorrow evening marks the third of four games in ten days at the Gunners home. Having already beaten Vorskla on Thursday in the Europa League and Everton on Sunday in the Premier League, Arsenal will be looking to continue their rich vein of form with Watford being the next visitors to the Emirates after Brentford.
The Bees earned their place in the third round with an inviting tie away at Arsenal having already beaten Southend United and Cheltenham Town in the competition. The Championship club sit just outside of the play-offs in seventh position after a strong start to the season.
Brentford narrowly missed out on a play-off play in the Championship last season and will be looking to continue their strong league form as they prepare to face Arsenal for the first time since 1947, a game in which the Gunners were 1-0 victors at Griffin Park.
Young guns chance to shine
Unai Emery is likely to make a handful of changes in what has already been a very busy six days for the Gunners as Emile Smith-Rowe and Eddie Nketiah are both in line for starts.
19-year-old Nketiah announced himself to the Arsenal fans in the Carabao Cup last season with a quickfire double from the bench against Norwich City to save his side from a shock defeat. Tomorrow’s cup tie could present the ideal opportunity for Emery to rest several first-team players and give his young prodigies a chance to shine in front of their home fans.
Arsenal are still without captain Laurent Koscielny, Sead Kolasinac, Konstantinos Mavropanos and Carl Jenkinson. Meanwhile, it is expected that Henrikh Mkhitaryan will not be risked having been absent from Sunday’s game against Everton.
Predicted line-up: Martinez, Osei-Tutu, Holding, Mustafi, Lichtsteiner, Elneny, Guendouzi, Smith-Rowe, Iwobi, Welbeck, Nketiah.
Key Clash - battle of young talents
Ollie Watkins is likely to be Brentford’s most dangerous player and could pose a threat to the Arsenal defence after making a flying start to the season.
The 22-year-old forward is looking to better his tally of ten league goals last season and looks hungry to achieve that having already scored four goals in the Championship this season.
Meanwhile, Arsenal’s young players will be eager to impress in front of the Emirates crowd tomorrow, none more than young midfielder Smith-Rowe who has already begun to turn heads in the football world.
The 18-year-old dazzled in pre-season with Arsenal, scoring a spectacular solo goal against Atletico Madrid and made his first competitive appearance for the Gunners on Thursday night in the Europa League, coming on as a substitute against Vorskla.
Smith-Rowe will be keen to follow in the footsteps of Nketiah, who made a big impression in last years competition. With cup competitions likely to be the best chance for him to show his potential.
Emery to favour other competitions
The Arsenal head coach named a strong line-up in last Thursday’s Europa League clash which saw many of the same players involved against Everton on Sunday, meaning that several key players are set to be rested ahead of Saturday’s Premier League fixture against Watford.
Despite being beaten handsomely by Manchester City in last years final, Arsenal enjoyed a few virtuous moments in the competition, including a 2-1 aggregate victory over rivals Chelsea in the semi-finals.
Although other competitions are likely to take priority this season, Emery will still be keen for Arsenal to continue their good form. “Against Brentford I am going to prepare the best performance for us, but I’ll be giving chances and opportunities to the players who are playing less in the competition,” the Spaniard told Arsenal.com