An Unprecedented Three Americans Could Play in Today's Manchester United vs. Arsenal Match
Editor's Note: This match will be televised in Colorado today at 12:45pm MT only on Setanta Sport PayPerView.
By Robert Millward - Associated Press -
Call it the "Battle of Old Trafford III'' - the junior version.
Sparks usually fly when Manchester United and Arsenal meet at the Reds' home and Wednesday night's League Cup quarterfinal should be no different.
But the front-line stars are likely to sit this game out leaving the stage to youngsters and backup players.
The last two Man U-Arsenal meetings at Old Trafford led to scuffles suspensions fines accusations of cheating and bitter verbal exchanges between managers Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger.
Ferguson said he was splattered with soup and pizza during a fracas in the tunnel as the players left the field after United's 2-0 Premier League victory over the Gunners in October a result which ended Arsenal's 49-game unbeaten streak.
But both teams use their backup players and rising prospects for the League Cup - considered the least important of the four competitions the powerhouse clubs play in.
That means Ruud van Nistelrooy Wayne Rooney Roy Keane and Co. won't face Thierry Henry Patrick Vieira and Dennis Bergkamp on Wednesday.
Wenger said that even without the big stars the game will be very competitive.
"I think they will want to beat us as much as we want to beat them said the Frenchman who faces a Football Association charge for calling Van Nistelrooy a "cheat" in the last Man U-Arsenal game.
United will give young stars Kieron Richardson Giuseppe Rossi and Chris Eagles rare starts.
"You always learn about your players in these matches Ferguson said. "It is an area where you can test the players - test their character their temperament and their ability to play at the top level. Its a great moment for all the young players here."
The Arsenal lineup should be similar to the team that beat Everton 3-1 in the previous round featuring Arturo Lupoli Quincy Owusu-Abeyie and Mathieu Flamini.
"I will just stick to what I have done since the start of the competition Wenger said. "One or two experienced players will play certainly but many young players will play.
There could even be three Americans on the field.
Tim Howard who lost his place to Roy Carroll will start in goal for United. The Reds lineup will also likely include 18-year-old defender Jonathan Spector.
Arsenal could start 20-year-old American defender Daniel Karbassiyoon who scored in the third round of the League Cup against Manchester City.
"It is a big test for those who want to become Arsenal players to go there show that they are not intimidated are capable of performing under pressure and against a good side Wenger said. "It is another step for their education."
Wenger said he needs to keep faith with his young players because Arsenal doesn't have the financial firepower to match United and Chelsea.
"I feel that when you have good youngsters the club is always in a situation where the future does not depend on the finances he said. "Also because we cannot keep with the big clubs financially we have to try and produce our own players."
A victory for Arsenal would give Wenger's side a major confidence boost with the team in a slump.
The Gunners have won just one of their last six Premier League games and have slipped to five points behind leader Chelsea. Four ties in a row have put their chances of reaching the second round of the Champions League in doubt.
Manchester United chief executive David Gill said he didn't expect any trouble from the young players on Wednesday.
"Both ourselves and Arsenal understand our responsibilities and I think things will be fine Gill said. "I'm sure Sir Alex and Arsene will be stressing the importance of focusing on the match and football alone." "