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Kind EFL Cup draw could lead to Wenger taking it seriously

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger

Having been drawn against Reading in the last 16 of the EFL Cup could lead to Arsene Wenger seeing the competition as an opportunity for silverware.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger

Arsenal were fortunate to avoid Premier League opposition as they were drawn against Reading in the EFL Cup Round of 16. 

In a round of big clashes such as the Manchester derby, Liverpool vs Tottenham and a London derby in West Ham vs Chelsea, Arsenal have drawn one of the six Championship teams left in the competition. 

However, Wenger's Gunners must guard against complacency. Last season, a second-string Arsenal side were knocked out by Sheffield Wednesday by a humbling 3-0 scoreline. 

The EFL Cup has been a puzzling competition for the Arsenal manager. He has traditionally used the competition as a chance to give young players time on the pitch. His record is still relatively impressive despite doing so, having reached the latter stages of the competition often, including two finals. 

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger before the match

However, as is widely known, he has not won it in his 20 years at the club. Perhaps though, this is the time to change that. Not only have Arsenal dodged a bullet in failing to draw one of the nine other top flight teams left in the competition, but eight of those nine teams drew each other.

That means a minimum of two (and a maximum of three if Hull lose to Bristol) Championship teams will make it through to the last eight. A three in seven or 42.86% chance of not facing a Premier League team until at least the semi-finals (assuming they get that far, of course) is very good odds. 

This isn't to say, of course, that if Arsenal beat Reading and then draw a Championship team they are guaranteed to go through. We learned as much last season. However, this is the deepest Arsenal squad for a long time, and even though Arsene Wenger is likely to stick to his guns and rotate his squad to some extent, he can still call upon some of his more established stars in the process. 

The starting XI in the third round tie against Nottingham Forest featured the likes of Granit Xhaka, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lucas Perez, who happen to be the goalscorers in that confident 4-0 victory. 

Arsenal's Granit Xhaka celebrates scoring their first goal with team mates

With the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Danny Welbeck, and Per Mertesacker returning from injury, the squad looks very deep indeed. We may even see the likes of Santi Cazorla or Theo Walcott featuring in the starting line-up in the next round. 

With competition for the Premier League and Champions League stronger than it has ever been, Arsene Wenger may see the EFL Cup as an opportunity to mark his 20th year with Arsenal with some silverware, by winning the one domestic trophy he has yet to collect.

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