Wenger ready to unleash young guns

Arsene Wenger will let Arsenal’s youngsters off the leash when he sends the club’s next generation of stars into League Cup action against Newcastle on Tuesday.

Wenger’s side have enjoyed a superb unbeaten start to the season and sit top of the Premier League thanks to the effervescent displays of Cesc Fabregas, Emmanuel Adebayor, Robin van Persie and company.

It is unlikely many of Wenger’s first choice players will feature against Newcastle at Emirates Stadium as he has traditionally used the competition as a chance to blood his most promising starlets. He is reaping the rewards of that policy as the youth academy graduates who have earned their stripes in the least regarded of England’s domestic competitions now form the spine of his side.

So the spotlight will fall on Nicklas Bendtner, Theo Walcott, Armand Traore, Kieran Gibbs when Sam Allardyce’s side visit for the third round tie.

Wenger, whose team lost last year’s final to Chelsea, loves the chance to show off the latest gem he has unearthed, so Newcastle can expect a tough time, even if they may not recognise half the names on the Arsenal teamsheet.

Allardyce would love a run in any competition as he tries to end Newcastle’s long barren stretch without a major trophy.

But he will be more concerned by the fitness of Michael Owen as the England striker struggles with a groin injury.

Owen was sent for scans after being forced to come off early in the second half of his side’s win over West Ham on Sunday.

Allardyce ruled him out of the Arsenal match but he will send a strong side with Obafemi Martins filling in for Owen.

Elsewhere, Rafa Benitez is likely to follow in Wenger’s footsteps and field a much changed Liverpool team at Reading.

The Reds have gone three games without a win and Benitez could be forgiven for seeing the tie as one match he could do without.

With his side now stuttering in front of goal after a promising start Benitez would rather spend quality time on the training ground.

But instead he must traipse down to the Madejski Stadium, although at least Fabio Aurelio is looking forward to it.

The Brazilian defender is back from six months out with an achilles injury and should feature.

”Now I’m playing again, my next aim is to stay involved,” Aurelio said.

”The injury happened at the worst possible moment for me. It came during a part of the season when I was feeling very confident and had started to link well with my teammates and show we were creating an understanding.” – Sapa-AFP

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Steve Griffiths
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