The EFL Cup, as it is now known, has been the competition in which many Arsenal players have made their debuts for the club and Stephy Mavididi will hope that he is the latest individual to make the step up when the Gunners host Southampton tonight.
The talented young forward was on the bench for the third round victory over Nottingham Forest but wasn’t included in the squad for the fixture against Reading. However, Mavididi trained with the first-team yesterday, and, with Olivier Giroud missing through injury, the 18-year-old, who hit a brace against Paris Saint-Germain in the UEFA Youth League last week, has a good chance of featuring tonight, most probably as a substitute.
Matt Macey, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Krystian Bielik and Marc Bola are also expected to make the squad but there is no room for Chris Willock, Gedion Zelalem, Ben Sheaf or Josh DaSilva.
Given that tonight’s opponents are an established Premier League side, Arsene Wenger will surely consider naming a slightly stronger squad than he normally does in this competition.
Those who have been on the periphery of the squad this season- Emiliano Martinez, Carl Jenkinson, Rob Holding, Gabriel, Kieran Gibbs and Jeff Reine-Adelaide- should all play, along with Alex Iwobi, the returning Lucas Perez and possibly Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Furthermore, Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott, Granit Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny also trained yesterday, and there is a possibility that some of these players may be named on the bench in case they are required to make an impact.
Petr Cech, David Ospina, Laurent Koscielny, Shkodran Mustafi and Aaron Ramsey were all rested from training yesterday and aren’t expected to be involved tonight. Ismael Bennacer trained with the first-team yesterday but may not make the bench.
Giroud, Hector Bellerin, Santi Cazorla, Mathieu Debuchy, Per Mertesacker, Danny Welbeck, Yaya Sanogo and Chuba Akpom are out injured.
Reine Adelaide-Oxlade Chamberlain-Iwobi
Subs: Macey, Bielik, M. Bola, Mavididi, Elneny, Xhaka, Walcott.