Arsene Wenger will make numerous changes to his starting lineup and blood some youngsters in as well as Arsenal look to move into the quarterfinals of the EFL Cup with a win over Reading at the Emirates on Tuesday. This fourth round match will give Wenger an opportunity to test his bench strength again, a welcome one, considering the few suspension and injury issues the manager has had to deal with recently.
Arsenal sorely missed the creative abilities of Santi Cazorla in the disappointing 0-0 draw against Middlesbrough at the weekend, and having missed the Premier League match with an Achilles problem, the Spaniard will be absent again for the EFL Cup, formerly known as the League Cup, fourth round encounter.
Granit Xhaka serves the second of his three-match suspension, but there are no new injuries or bans for Wenger to worry about.
"Cazorla will not be available, but it looked after the game that apart from some tired legs and disappointed minds, we had nothing else to declare," Wenger told reporters.
This game will come too soon for Aaron Ramsey, who is back in full training but not quite a 100 per cent fit enough yet to face Reading, but striker Olivier Giroud, whose physical presence was sorely missed in that goalless draw against Boro, will be in the matchday squad.
"I think Olivier will be included, but for Aaron it is too early although he is back in full training now," Wenger added.
Another player set to make a long-awaited return is Carl Jenkinson, who is expected to start against Reading after several months out with a cruciate ligament injury. Wenger, whose Arsenal team beat Nottingham Forest in the previous round, will also give opportunities to the likes of Gabriel, Rob Holding and the youngster Jeff-Reine Adelaide.
"It will be a similar squad to against Nottingham Forest," Wenger said. "We will have Gabriel, Holding, Jenkinson will be back and will play. Jeff Reine-Adelaide will play, otherwise I think (Alex) Iwobi, Lucas (Perez), (Alex) Oxlade-Chamberlain will also play. (Kieran) Gibbs, who captained the team at Forest, will do it again on Tuesday."
Reading manager Jaap Stam has admitted this EFL Cup match hasn't been a priority for his team and, like the last round, several changes are expected to his lineup.
Expected Arsenal starting XI: Martinez; Jenkinson, Holding, Gabriel, Gibbs; Elneny, Coquelin; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Reine-Adelaide, Iwobi; Lucas.