On Tuesday night, Arsenal progressed to the semi-finals of the EFL Cup with a comfortable 1-0 win over West Ham, courtesy of a Danny Welbeck goal. The game was a slight non-event, as there was very little to talk about from an injury to Olivier Giroud and a chance of officials.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger also stuck to his rotation policy, which to be fair to the Frenchman has served him well this season. Weakened sides have helped the Gunners to qualify from their Europa League group, while also taking the north London side to the last four of the EFL Cup.
Could face tough opposition in the last four
I asked that question after the last round and his team selection against West Ham gave me my answer, with a resounding yes. However, the Gunners have faced relatively weak opposition so far in the competition.
Alongside Arsenal in the last four are Manchester City. Meanwhile both Chelsea and Manchester United could join the pair in the semi-finals. Any of those three will provide stiff opposition for the Gunners, even if they all field weakened sides.
City have arguably the best team B if you like. The likes of Gabriel Jesus and Ilkay Gundogan are both considered part of that team. I doubt the Gunners would record such a comfortable win over any of their rivals if they play the way they did against West Ham.
Wenger has done it before
Wenger does not rate the EFL Cup at all. Even when the Gunners have made it to the latter stages of the competition, he has mostly stuck with the players that have got them there. Surely, at the semi-final stage, this time around he will consider fielding some of his big guns.
The French boss will feel like keeping faith with the fringe and young players that have helped Arsenal to this stage, although it has only been three rounds so far. The Gunners have not exactly pulled up any trees in the previous rounds either.
Arsenal underdogs to win the trophy
Whether it is the strength of competition or Wenger’s habit of rotating his squad in the competition, it seems nobody really fancies Arsenal to win the EFL Cup. The Gunners are currently odds of 7/2 to lift the trophy, longer odds than Chelsea and Manchester United who have not even made it to the semi-finals yet.
In all honesty, the team that produced such a lacklustre display would struggle against any of their rivals in the semi-finals. However, with the EFL Cup being bottom of the Arsenal priority list maybe boss Wenger would not be that bothered by a semi-final exit.
Should Arsenal field a strong team in the EFL Cup semi-finals?