Arsenal U21s have the opportunity to edge closer to playing at Wembley when they take on their Chelsea counterparts in the Papa John’s Trophy tonight.
The game, which is in the third round stage of the competition, will take place at Emirates Stadium, with kick off at 7pm.
It has been quite a journey for Arsenal in this competition so far this season. They had to be heavily reliant on other results to progress through the group stages and then managed to come from two goals down to equalise away to Ipswich Town before prevailing on penalties.
This is the first time that Arsenal have faced another U21 team in this competition and it should be an entertaining contest.
Arsenal will be fully aware of the difficulty of the task that faces them, especially given that Chelsea won 5-0 against Leicester City in their most recent Premier League 2 fixture.
Chelsea have talented players such as Jaden Wareham and Jude Soonsup-Bell, while 26-year-old Lewis Baker could also feature.
As far as Arsenal are concerned, Kevin Betsy’s team selection is set to be heavily influenced by which players are needed for first-team training sessions ahead of Thursday’s game against Liverpool.
It seems likely that Charlie Patino will remain with the senior squad, but it remains to be seen whether the likes of Salah-Eddine, Omari Hutchinson and Mika Biereth will be able to feature tonight.
With Folarin Balogun going on loan to Middlesbrough and Nikolaj Moller having only recently returned from Viktoria Koln, if Biereth was unavailable it would be a significant blow for Arsenal.
However, the young Gunners do still possess quality in other areas. Winger Joel Ideho is relishing finally getting a chance to show his credentials, while Jack Henry-Francis and the comparatively experienced James Olayinka provide a combination of creativity and defensive qualities in midfield.
It is likely that there will be a strong U18s presence in tonight’s squad, and it will be especially interesting to see whether Marcelo Flores features after he was brought on as a substitute against Brighton & Hove Albion last week.
If the game finishes level tonight then there won’t be any extra-time and the tie will head straight to penalties. The winners will face Wigan Athletic away in the quarter-finals.