By Rob Kelly
“Sheffield Wednesday have a strong team spirit so they will certainly work to create difficulties for us and I’m sure they have the quality to do that. We have to respond with a top-level performance.” - Arsene Wenger
For fans of a certain vintage, Arsenal v Sheffield Wednesday in the League Cup will invariably stir up memories of 1993 and Steve Morrow’s rise and fall at Wembley.
Tuesday night’s clash at Hillsborough will be the third time since that fateful afternoon that the two sides have met in this competition - and it's an opportunity for another unlikely hero to take centre stage.
After four games in 10 days, Arsene Wenger is understandably keen to freshen up his side for the trip to Yorkshire - and that could mean chances for the likes of Alex Iwobi, Glen Kamara, Krystian Bielik and Ben Sheaf.
They will be surrounded by more experienced heads, but whatever side the manager fields he expects Arsenal to keep their winning run going.
“It’s down to me to manage the workload of the players without diminishing the quality of the team,” he told Arsenal Player. “I believe I’m lucky because I have quality players. Even the players who do not play are top internationals.
|Sheffield Wednesday: Turner, Lopez, Matias, SougouArsenal: Ramsey (hamstring), Wilshere (ankle), Welbeck (knee), Rosicky (knee), Arteta (ankle), Ospina (shoulder)|
“I’m a bit unlucky because we are two or three short at the moment [because of injuries]. But that gives me a good opportunity to give some games to the players who have not played recently, to rest some of those who need a little breather and as well to give a chance to one or two young players.
“When you are Arsenal you know most of the teams that you travel to, especially in the cup games, do not have a lot to lose. We know that type of problem and we have always dealt with it historically.
“We want the players who come in to show that they are able to make the squad successful, and do absolutely everything to help us win.”
ONE TO WATCH
One of the most pleasing aspects of Arsenal’s recent rise has been the return to form of Olivier Giroud.
The France international did not experience the easiest of starts to the campaign for club or country, but five goals in his last four games shows that he is well and truly back.
Wenger has always believed in Giroud, who is second only to Sergio Aguero for the most Premier League goals scored over the past three seasons. Giroud remains in a big battle with Theo Walcott for a starting berth, but Wenger says both have responded positively.
“Because Olivier is a man, he accepts the competition and the challenge,” the manager explained.
“Theo as well. I must say, honestly, I give both of them huge credit in the way they accept their competition, in the way they play, in the way they deal with the problems they face, and the respect they show each other as well.
“I said many times that scoring is a little bit cyclic. It goes up and down and it’s my job then to use the players at the right period. At the moment it works. My timing is right. Hopefully I can keep that.”
Sheffield Wednesday may not be a particularly attack-minded team but they spread the goals around evenly, with four players on three goals this term, and four more on two.
|This is the first meeting between Sheffield Wednesday and Arsenal since May 2000, a 3-3 draw at HighburyThe two sides have met five times in the League Cup, with the Gunners victorious on all five occasions, including in the 1993 finalThe Owls haven't lost a home League Cup tie since August 2008. They have progressed from seven in a row since then, conceding just one goal|
Their eight-match unbeaten run has been founded on a solid, settled defence and they will prove a big threat on set-pieces, having scored a third of their goals this way.
Wenger is well aware of Wednesday's qualities, and expects a stern challenge at Hillsborough on Tuesday.
“They are a team who have just won at Rotherham,” he said. “I watched the game and they have good, tall strikers.
"They have Barry Bannan who has played in the Premier League and they look to have a very compact team who are at a very good technical level.
“They have a strong team spirit so they will certainly work to create difficulties for us and I’m sure they have the quality to do that. We have to respond with a top-level performance.”
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