Arsenal v West Ham United: Carabao Cup Quarter-Final Match Preview
Arsenal host West Ham United in the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup at the Emirates Stadium tonight (7.45pm kick-off UK time).
The teams have met just twice previously in this competition, with West Ham winning 3-1 at Highbury in the third round in 1966, but losing 2-1 at home to the Gunners at the fifth-round stage in 1998.
The Gunners have lost their past four home League Cup games against fellow Premier League sides, losing 2-0 against Southampton at the last-eight stage last season.
The Hammers are looking to reach the semi-finals for the second time in the past five seasons, having only reached the last four in one of their previous 23 campaigns.
Both Arsene Wenger and David Moyes are set to make wholesale changes for the match.
The fixture comes after three Premier League fixtures in a week, and ahead of the hectic Christmas and New Year schedule of matches.
Arsene Wenger is set to revert back to the players who have played in the earlier rounds of this competition and in the Europa League group stage matches.
It’s unlikely that any of the players who started in the 1-0 Premier League win over Newcastle United on Saturday will do so again tonight.
David Ospina is set to start in-goal in place of Petr Cech.
Whilst Mathieu Debuchy, Calum Chambers and Rob Holding are in line to play in defence.
Francis Coquelin and Mohamed Elneny should come into midfield, with Olivier Giroud and Danny Welbeck starting up front.
Wenger has confirmed that Theo Walcott is 100 per cent fit after a groin strain and will play tonight.
West Ham United
David Moyes has confirmed that Joe Hart will start in-goal. The England No 1 has lost his place in the Hammers’ Premier League team to Adrian.
Andy Carroll and Javier Hernandez have recovered from injuries and at least one of them is likely to start in attack for the Hammers tonight.
James Collins made a successful return from injury in Saturday’s Premier League game at Stoke City, helping the Hammers to a clean sheet and 3-0 victory against the Potters.
Road to the Quarter-Finals
Young striker Edward Nketiah scored two goals to help the Gunners edge past Championship side Norwich City 2-1 after extra time in the last round at the Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal trailed the Canaries going into the final five minutes of the match, but the brace from Nketiah in the 85th and 96th minutes saved their blushes.
The Gunners have also beaten Doncaster Rovers 1-0 at the Emirates Stadium on their run to this stage of the competition, with Theo Walcott scoring the only goal of the match.
West Ham reached this stage of the competition after coming from two goals down at half-time to beat Tottenham Hotspur 3-2 in the last round at Wembley.
Andre Ayew netted twice from close range and Angelo Ogbonna nodded in the winner from a corner to complete a stunning turnaround. No player has had a hand in more Carabao Cup goals this season than Ayew (3 goals, 1 assist).
That result meant that West Ham had reached the quarter-finals of the League Cup in consecutive campaigns for the first time since 1980-81, the same season they beat Tottenham Hotspur on their way to a final defeat by Liverpool.
The Hammers have also seen off Cheltenham Town (2-0 at the LCI Rail Stadium with goals from Diafra Sakho and Andre Ayew) and Bolton Wanderers (3-0 at the London Stadium with goals from Angelo Ogbonna, Diafra Sakho and Arthur Masuaku) in their run to the quarter-finals.
Despite reaching the final on two occasions, the League Cup is the one English domestic trophy Wenger has yet to win with Arsenal. This will be his 14th quarter-final tie in the competition, and he has progressed from six of the previous 13.
This is what Wenger had to say to Arsenal.com about rotating his players for tonight’s match.
“Some players are a little bit on the edge. I think as well that we have so many quality players who did not start on Saturday, so you cannot say that you prefer to play a player who has played three games in six days to a guy who is at the same level and is completely fresh.
“The players who will start are basically all international players, so that’s why I think [squad rotation] makes sense. You have as well to show the trust and the confidence that we have in the players who did not start last week.”
This is what Moyes had to say at his pre-match press conference yesterday.
“It’ll be a totally different game (from the Premier League match between the teams last week), but we’ll go there and try to give a good account of ourselves and win the game.
“We’ve got the same sort of squad but with a couple of injuries and a couple of young players around.
“Andy Carroll could return. He’s had a bad back but he trained today and we will make a call on him tomorrow.
“Ideally we would have changed one or two players, but we’re a bit short and our priority is the Premier League, but nothing would give me more pleasure than reaching a cup final.
“Joe Hart will definitely start tomorrow night. He’s been very good around the place and he’s ready to play.
Referee: Kevin Friend
Assistant Referees: Stuart Burt and Mark Scholes
Fourth Official: Christopher Kavanagh
It’s always difficult to make a prediction when both teams are set to make wholesale changes, but Arsenal to win 2-1 – but it might take extra time to decide the outcome.