Arsenal made it safely through to the Quarter Finals of the EFL Cup on Tuesday night, with two goals from Alex Oxlade Chamberlain helping them to a comfortable victory over Championship side Reading. Manager Arsene Wenger chose to rest the majority of his regular first team starters, with a mixture of youngsters and back-up players doing enough to claim a 2-0 victory. Their reward for such a success is a quarter final clash with Southampton, with the Gunners among the favourites in the football odds among bookmakers to win the trophy for a third time.
Having come off the back of a disappointing home draw with Middlesbrough, Wenger was certainly under pressure to deliver a positive result, however the Frenchman still stuck with his familiar policy of resting players in the competition. Lucas Perez was handed a rare start following his arrival at the Emirates at the end of the summer transfer window, while defender Carl Jenkinson made his comeback from long term injury. However, it was Oxlade-Chamberlain who stole the show, scoring a goal in each half to silence his critics. As a result of his brace, and despite the club’s willingness to use the competition in order to rotate their squad, Arsenal are better odds now for the season winner, with Betway installing them as the 3/1 second favourites for the competition in their football odds.
Oxlade-Chamberlain has suffered from some damaging injuries since he joined Arsenal, however the former Southampton youngster is in danger is being left behind. Along with his undoubted talent, the England international suffers from an irritating lack of consistency, with the 23-year-old struggling for game time with the likes of Mesut Ozil and Alex Iwobi ahead of him in the pecking order. The Ox was not part of England’s squad for Euro 2016, and has been linked with moves away from the Emirates in the last few weeks.
Wenger will certainly be pleased with how his understudies handled the situation on Tuesday however, and with the club looking to make an assault on both Premier League and Champions League this season, the Frenchman will certainly be hoping that this long continues. Having finished second in the English top flight last time around, Betway offer football odds of 11/2 for Arsenal to claim a first title since 2004. However, with the FA Cup proving successful over recent history, the pressure will be on Wenger to deliver on all fronts.