Arsene Wenger expects his young guns to build on the momentum created by Arsenal's stunning win over Manchester United when they face Wigan in the League Cup fourth round on Tuesday. Wenger uses the competition as a way of grooming his emerging talents for the Premier League, and last time out in this tournament they beat strong Championship side Sheffield United 6-0.
Supporters watched in delight at the weekend as Arsenal beat English and European champions Manchester United 2-1, but the same fans will gather at the Emirates Stadium in hope of seeing another thrilling night of football from an almost entirely different set of players.
One of the players called upon will be Carlos Vela, the 19-year-old Mexican who scored a hat-trick in that success over Sheffield United. Nicklas Bendtner is likely to play beside him in attack, and is looking forward to creating an exciting partnership. "Carlos works hard and is a really good finisher," Bendtner said. "I think we combine really well, we played a lot together during pre-season. We are delighted to have him here."
Wenger has no fears over using this fixture to give his more experienced players a well earned rest. Only goalkeeper Lukasz Fanianski and midfield players Alex Song and Denilson are likely to feature from the side that beat United. "The team shows a good mixture of talent," Wenger said. "They also show a mature collective spirit to play the way we want to play. I am very proud of that. We looked strong when we played against Sheffield United in every individual position, and that takes a lot of hard work. I would not be afraid to use any of my youngsters learning their jobs."
Englishman Jack Wilshere, 16, is another player who will get a chance to prove himself to the home supporters. "He's already well known," added Wenger. "We have seen the level he is capable of already, but I try to play it down. The talent is there, and the spirit too. He has an exceptional future ahead."
Wigan have collected just one victory from their last six outings. The Latics have played Arsenal eight times, and only once have they come away with a victory. The visitors do not have the luxury of being able to field a completely different team from the one which drew with Stoke City at the weekend, but they will be without England international Emile Heskey for the Emirates trip after he suffered a hamstring injury.
Henri Camara is now expected to make his first start for the club since he began in the League Cup win over Notts County back in August. The Senegalese international is in no doubt that he can handle the match if manager Steve Bruce decides to give him an opportunity. "The bottom line is you have to be patient, and hopefully I'll get a chance in the game as I have a lot to prove," he said.
"It is always a pleasure to face Arsenal, because they are a very attacking team and as a forward that gives you plenty of space to run into and express yourself. I've played in the World Cup, so I have experience of big games. I'll be ready for this is my chance comes along."