Arsene Wenger suffered a frustrating 67th birthday on Saturday as the Frenchman saw his Arsenal side held to a goalless draw by Middlesbrough at the Emirates Stadium, ending a run of seven consecutive victories in all competitions.
Despite failing to make the breakthrough against a well organised Boro side, the point extended Arsenal’s unbeaten run to twelve matches, and ensured the Gunners continued to put pressure on Manchester City, who currently sit at the summit of the Premier League table.
Arsenal return to first team action on Tuesday evening participating in a League Cup fourth round clash against Championship side Reading, having overcame Nottingham Forest in the previous round with an impressive 4-0 victory.
Historically Wenger has used League Cup fixtures to rest key players and bring in youngsters, and that trend looks highly likely to continue with the Gunners boss confirming that several fringe players will be taking part.
French striker Olivier Giroud, who has been absent since picking up an injury back in September, also looks likely to return to first team action.
Discussing team news on Arsenal’s official club website ahead of Tuesday’s 7:45pm kick-off at the Emirates, Wenger said:
“Cazorla will not be available, but it looked after the game that apart from some tired legs and disappointed minds, we had nothing else to declare. I think Olivier will be included, but for Aaron it is too early although he is back in full training now.
“It will be a similar squad to against Nottingham Forest. We will have Gabriel, Holding, Jenkinson will be back and will play. Jeff Reine-Adelaide will play, otherwise I think Iwobi, Lucas, Oxlade-Chamberlain will also play. Gibbs – who captained the team at Forest – will do it again on Tuesday.”
Since their opening day defeat against Liverpool, Arsenal have been in fine form, and despite Saturday’s goalless draw with Middlesbrough the north London side will be confident of progressing in the League Cup.
Steven Parkhill, Pundit Arena