Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta is set to lead the Gunners up north to the west midlands after drawing West Brom in the second round of the Carabao Cup, which took place earlier this evening.
Carabao Cup round 2 draw: West Brom vs Arsenal
— Chris Wheatley (@ChrisWheatley_) August 11, 2021
Having to square off against a “lesser” opponent could potentially suit Arsenal given the timing of the clash, which is to take place at The Hawthorns, being sandwiched between Premier League clashes against Manchester City and Chelsea.
With Arsenal in need of a strong start in the 2021-22 Premier League campaign in a season that sees them without European football of any sort for the first time since 1995-96, there is scope to suggest that Mikel Arteta is now presented with two viable options for the type of XI he could call-upon to negotiate the early stages of the cup competition.
On the one hand, fielding his strongest XI – that now is subject to reduced fixture congestion and thus less necessary rotation – could help the Gunners find form in the early weeks of the season in a bid to truly challenge for the European places if not an unexpected top-four finish.
But Arteta could certainly also view the West Brom fixture as an opportunity to give his young guns valuable match experience, and there are a fair few that could be in line to receive a run out on the day. The likes of new signings Sambi Lokonga, Nuno Tavares, and the promoted Arthur Okonkwo could (and probably should) be called upon on the day, while U-23 options Miguel Azeez, Charlie Patino, Catalin Cîrjan, Kido Taylor-Hart, Omar Rekik could all be given a chance to impress.
There is no telling how Mikel Arteta intends on handling the team selection, but having a wealth of options in this scenario is certainly no bad thing.