Welcome to a new feature on Arsenal.com - Talking Heads.
Before and after every first-team fixture our MatchDay Show team - and an Arsenal blogger - will have their say on the match.
Arsenal take on Manchester City in the Carling Cup on Tuesday and our Talking Heads for this game are Dan Roebuck, Stephen Hughes and Julian Harris from Gingers For Limpar.
Read on for their pre-match thoughts and come back later for their post-match comments.
DAN ROEBUCK, COMMENTATOR
You never want to lose a game but, let's be honest, this defeat had more positives than most. For a start there were plenty of good performances to give Arsène Wenger food for thought when he rotates his squad during the busy festive period. The likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Francis Coquelin and Emmanuel Frimpong all did enough to suggest they can slot into the first team when required. Laurent Koscielny was outstanding and Sebastien Squillaci also deserves credit - they handed the dangerous Edin Dzeko pretty well all match. It was a shame to lose to a breakaway goal but every cloud has a silver lining and Arsenal might benefit if their January fixture list is not quite so crowded.
It doesn't get much tougher than this for Arsenal's youngsters. One glance at the Manchester City bench at Anfield on Sunday underlined the strength in depth Roberto Mancini has at his disposal and his line-up will be packed with internationals. So it's up to Arsenal to use their energy and hunger to disrupt City's big names and try and force them onto the back foot. The key for me is the centre forward - with RVP likely to be rested we will need Chamakh or Park to come in and link up the play. If they can do that, Arsenal can build momentum and create chances. If the ball doesn't stick up front, it could be a long night.
STEPHEN HUGHES, CO-COMMENTATOR
Obviously it was disappointing to go out of the competition, especially when you consider that Arsenal had the best chances. Park could have put them ahead early on and Oxlade-Chamberlain had that brilliant effort with his left foot. City had their keeper to thank on both occasions. Chamberlain looked the most likely matchwinner - he is so direct and gets such power regardless of which foot he uses to shoot - but in the end Arsenal were caught out from their own corner. Aguero was never going to miss that and any chance Arsenal had of forcing extra time was scuppered by Kolo Toure, who was really impressive.
Manchester City may be in town but I still expect Arsène Wenger to field a mixture of youngsters and more experienced fringe players who need a game. We should see the likes of Yossi Benayoun and Ju Young Park, and what better way to enhance their reputations than with a match-winning display against the Premier League leaders? It's a great opportunity for the younger players like Emmanuel Frimpong to show what they can do and I'm expecting a pretty even contest with extra time quite possibly on the cards. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain hasn't been seen in the first team since he was taken off in the last round so it's a big night for him as well. Fingers crossed.
JULIAN HARRIS, GINGERS FOR LIMPAR
The game included many proud performances, despite the outcome. Oxlade-Chamberlain reinforced his claim for a first-team place - a notable achievement for an 18 year old in his debut year of top-flight football. He appears very much the modern wide forward, able and willing to cut inside and cause a direct threat. Additionally, Coquelin and Frimpong excelled in the midfield, backing up the latter’s pre-match claim that they could cope with City’s big-name millionaires. Deploying many of his top players, Mancini used clever defensive tactics, stifling much of our threat in their third and hitting us on the break. Eventually this paid off for the visitors. Arsenal’s first defeat in the last 11 games and it came in the least important competition of the four. No need to over-react, things are still looking positive.
Admiring a selection of Arsenal’s youth talent as they storm through the League Cup has been a phenomenon of the Wenger era, and one for which we should be most grateful. Yet if any club is in a position to field an equally strong or even stronger second string, it is this week’s visitors. Manchester City’s Abu Dhabi-backed squad is immense – their bench on Sunday against Liverpool consisted of around £100m worth of signings. One of those players, Kolo Toure, could feature at centre-back in this game at the Emirates. Unlike some other former Arsenal players, Toure is guaranteed a warm welcome, having shown a lot of dedication and respect to the club and its supporters. Facing him will presumably be forwards such as Chamakh and Park, who both need to show that Arsenal have good options up front, even when Van Persie isn’t playing.
* The views expressed in Talking Heads do not necessarily reflect those of Arsenal Football Club or Arsenal Broadband Ltd.Copyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 30 Nov 2011