Wenger refrains from using key players in Southampton clash

Arsene Wenger will not field his regular lineup for the EFL Cup quarter-final at home to Southampton.

Wenger has used his squad players in both rounds of the competition so far – against Nottingham Forest, when the team won 4-0 away from home, and Reading – and it appears that he will not deviate from the policy for Southampton’s visit.

Emi Martinez will once again start in goal while Wenger will change the entire line of defense that played in the Bournemouth game.

“We want to go to Wembley, we want to go all the way,” said the 24-year-old Argentine keeper. “I dreamt of winning it the first day. We’ve only got three more games now so I’m really looking forward to playing Southampton at home.”

With Laurent Koscielny, Shkodran Mustafi and Nacho Monreal rested and Mathieu Debuchy out with injury, Wenger is expected to start with Carl Jenkinson, Gabriel Paulista, Rob Holding and Kieran Gibbs in defence.

The manager will also be resting his three most potent offensive players – Mesut Ozil, Theo Walcott and Alexis Sanchez – and has decisions to make across midfield. He will choose from Mohamed Elneny, Francis Coquelin, Alex Oxlade‑Chamberlain, Alex Iwobi, Aaron Ramsey, Granit Xhaka, Jeff Reine‑Adelaide and Ainsley Maitland-Niles.

“We will have a mixture of youth and experience but still 90% of a first-team squad,” Wenger said.

“Debuchy is out and (Olivier) Giroud has a slight problem – he’s out, too. Perez is in the squad and Jenkinson will play. I rested Carl completely against Bournemouth because he had played in two big games [against Manchester United and Paris St-Germain] and I felt he needed a breather [having only recently returned from a nine-month injury lay-off].

“Sometimes, mentally, three games in a week demands a lot. Carl’s back in and we’ll put Gabriel in the centre.”

Prediction:

Arsenal (1) – (1) Southampton

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