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Time To Get Serious?

Whilst Tuesday evening`s soiree at the Lane was very fun indeed, the reality was that it was only the resumption of bragging rights and a chance to mock the Tottenham marketing department`s repeated DVD faux pas. Beyond that, there didn`t seem to be a great deal of importance in the result bar the fact that the heartbreak of the last minute equaliser at Sunderland was forgotten and the momentum for our impressive start to the season was maintained. In that respect, fielding a stronger side was a canny move by Wenger- not least because he duped Redknapp into thinking we would field a more callow side. (That said, Arsenal`s starting line up had over 500 less senior appearances behind it than Tottenham`s on Tuesday). The move was heralded by senior Arsene critics as a watershed in his approach to the competition.

I`m not so sure myself. I think it was a pragmatic move given exterior circumstances and given the opposition on their home ground. The truth is also, that the Arsenal squad is not quite as young as it used to be. We were able to play without a whole host of established first teamers and still field a side with an average of 24.3 (compared to Tottenham`s 24.9). In the 2007 Carling Cup Final, Arsenal`s starting line up averaged at 20.9 years old. So for all the talk of a change in attitude, there is also an evolution in the squad`s dynamic to be accounted for. However much fun Tuesday night was, nobody is or ever was under the impression that the Carling Cup is anything more than our 4th priority. However, there is a feeling that, though still very much 4th on the list, that maybe the League Cup has a greater attraction all of a sudden. The curriculum vitae of teams dumped out of this week`s competition; Chelsea, Liverpool, Everton, Manchester City, Spurs of course, but even sides such as Blackburn, Fulham and Bolton have now been unceremoniously dumped out. All of a sudden, it looks like a very winnable competition. Should this yield a change in approach?

Your instant response would be "yes" I am sure. I would chance not a single day goes by when we are not reminded of our relative trophy drought. The team needs a trophy, for themselves first and foremost to build belief and erect a platform from which to continue to collect prizes. The 1987 League Cup win sowed the seeds for Graham`s side to win two league titles in the proceeding four years, the 1993 League Cup win indirectly fed into Arsenal`s subsequent appearance in three more cup finals within 2 years of beating Sheffield Wednesday at Wembley. It might be our lowest priority, but that doesn`t mean we don`t want to win it, right? So with only Villa and Manchester United left as genuine top ten sides in the cup, it appears the machete has chopped away a large swathe of forest for us. However, as ever there is another side of the coin to contemplate.

The first is that, undeniably, Arsenal suffer injuries. A lot. The so called human cost of Tuesday night has yet to be seen with Nasri, Wilshere and Koscielny being taken to task for 120 minutes. Tomas Rosicky and Emmanuel Eboue picked up minor knocks. This competition advances into its latter stages as the European fixtures pile up in the early winter and progress into the tumultuous Christmas period. I couldn`t imagine being too thrilled to see someone like Arshavin crocked in the Carling Cup and missing more pressing encounters as a result. Another flip side has already reared its head this week. Woijcech Szczesny has unwisely thrown his toys out of the pram very publicly at having not been given a chance to impress at White Hart Lane. The League Cup has long been Arsene`s laboratory to test his latest young Frankensteins. Arsenal`s fleet of talented youngsters rely on the tournament as their first opportunity to forage away from mother`s teet in competitive environment. If we are to select a more brow beaten, world weary line up from now on, the disenfranchisement of the likes of Szczesny is likely to grow as younger players are starved of oxygen. This of course is also a consequence of the evolution of the club, now players such as Fran Merida are more likely to leave, the club is now in a position to sign players in their prime such as Arshavin and Squillaci- a position emphasised by the announcement of some rapidly swelling profit margins. But it`s impossible to imagine that the likes of Clichy, Fabregas, van Persie and the emerging Wilshere could ever have blossomed into first team mainstays so easily without the Carling Cup.

I suspect Wenger will keep more of an interested eye on the league cup from here on and I would expect to see his team selections become more pragmatic. Should we draw Villa or United in the next round, or perhaps face trips to Newcastle or Stoke, that we might see a smattering of established players continue to make their presence felt. In the event of a home draw or being matched with a lower division side, expect to see Emmanuel Thomas and Lansbury shunted into the spotlight. I do not identify with those that must have now and that believe a trophy is superior to regular Champions League qualification, but I do think it is important for the supporters to see a trophy, as well as the players. It will serve to quell some dissenting voices and mobilise more supporters behind the team and the manager. I don`t believe in the club immolating its principles to suit the malleable whims of the fans, but a more united front cannot be a bad thing for the club either. Of course, now I have penned this article on Friday evening, we will draw United away.LD.




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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Friday September 24 2010

Time: 8:33PM

Your Comments

Interesting question and one that's bound to be asked. Is it time to take the CC more seriously? Not for me it isn't. It's still a mickey mouse tin pot trophy that should come a long, long, long way behind the 3rd priority of qualifying for the CL. The strength of the sides we can put out will depend on those greater priorities and the extent of any squad injuries that we have. Even so we don't really have a youth policy anymore so any team we put out is likely to have a greater complement of 'senior' players than we have had in the past as players like Fabregas, Walcott, Diaby and Denilson who featured in that 2007 CL final have grown up with the club and the players we have bought in since are more mature players. There was definitely a 'feel good' dividend in not going too far towards our youth side for the game against the spuds (though we still had more youths in the squad than they did) but I don't think that should be seen as heralding a different approach to the competition itself. It's still the competition we're less likely to take any risks for than any other. If that means going down to Northampton away nobody should shed any tears about it - it just isn't worth it.
Amos.
Excellent article LD. I really wouldn't know what to do if I were in the managers position. Tough one.
gronedrone
I think the 'strong' team we put out will only be seen again if we draw United. (I use quotations as one could easily list a much stronger team using 11 players not used on tuesday). The reason such a team was used is three-fold, as I see. First being injuries: Frimpong, Bendtner, Ramsey, and Walcott would all have likely featured if healthy. Second would be transfers/loans: Merida, Traore, and Bartley come to mind instantly. Third would be Eboue and Denilson needing to play to maintain match fitness after having seen sparse minutes so far this year.
TPowell
Oh, and we're just not that young anymore. For instance, Gibbs is the only 'young' defender from our first team, and even he's considered quite capable by gooners and pundits alike.
TPowell
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=utUyha0wjSE&feature=player_embedded
Arseniger
We're not that young anymore. Fair enough. But we have a much better squad. Together with injuries, that makes us a better team! :) Let's go for it.
ptv-
Don't you think though the further we get in the cup, the more player we can drop from our first team squad (no rosicky, koz, arshavin and clichy), and bring in players who need time playing coming back from inj. (esp. ramsey and bendtner)? Not only ar the players we use quality, but getting match fit? win, lose or (ok win or lose on penalties) we're giving our inj. players the oportunity to have a run around? if we get to the final, all the better for it....
plasticspam
Great article as always LD (when are you turning pro with one of the heavyweight newspapers?). There were two matters at play on Tuesday. Firstly the juniors of three years ago are now genuine squad players, Denilson.Djourou,Vela, Gibbs etc and also three years older and if they did not get chosen for a game like this when they still need games there would have been morale problems. Secondly against the Spuds at WHL there was pride at stake and AW could not afford to be too adventurous, given the result he got it absolutely right, and evn if there was a good looking home draw to come he will not stray much past the Tuesday eleven.
grouvillegooner
I fully expect to get Utd or Stoke away. *grr* For a long time I didn't quarrel with AW's policy re the CC but in the last 2 seasons I've been giving greater credit to Mourinho's and Ferguson's approach to the CC during a time of transition and no big trophies for Chelsea & Utd. Mourinho arrived in England with a lot to prove - so in order to build momentum he went after the CC and won it. During the transitional period (3 seasons) of drought of trophies at Utd 2004-2007, Ferguson won the CC and built momentum. It didn't work with Spurs of course because (apart from not having a good enuf squad of course), you need to have the same manager and mostly the same team for the approach to work. In other words, stability. So I'm all for a serious campaign for the CC.
jaelle
Just a detail, but by my reckoning the Spurs starting line-up had an average age of 24 as against Arsenal’s 22.9 and the average age of the finishing line-ups were Spurs 25.5 years and Arsenal 23.8 years.
26may1989
Let's face it, it's the only trophy you can actually win. So yeah, take it seriously.
Tony Rocky Horror
Well it's definitely a troophy Totnum can't win...........
Little Dutch
Shame arry didn't take your advice TRH. First of all I just want to clear up this "trophy drought" myth. I'm sure most of you are aware of this, but for those of you who are not...... the Arsenal have won a major domestic trophy (league title/FA cup) in every decade since the 1930's bar the 60's....that's 7 out of the last 8 decades! Now if that is not consistency then what the hell is!? Yeah we haven't won a trophy for a few years...it seems the media and spuds are more obsessed about this then the average Arsenal fan. After Barcelona's la liga title in 99 they went 5 years or so without any silver. It was hardly the start of there demise. If we win the CC then great! If we don't, I wont lose any sleep over it. For me personally the Premiership is the creme....I would take it every time over the CL...OK maybe win it once just to say we have :), but since Liverpool were the best team in Europe while being the 5th best team in England...It has kind of lost its shine for me. I'm sure you wont all agree with me...this is just my opinion. I think AW will just use common sense...it all depends on what games we have coming up around the CC games. Obviously it is our lowest priority, but I don't want us to cut off our nose to spite our face all the same. I'm sure he will give the likes of JET a run out if we get a home draw. And I'm sure he will mix it up with a few older hands in any away tie. in Arsene we trust.....
gunnerman76
I feel the need to correct you there gunnerman76. Arsenal have won a trophy in each of 9 sucessive decades. There is no year zero in the gregorian calendar so a historical decade runs from year 1 to year 10. Hence the first year of the first decade of this century is 2001 while 2010 is the last year of this first decade of the 21st century. Arsenals first major trophy was in 1930 at the end of the 3rd decade of the last century and you will find we have won something in each successive decade since. If we win something between 2011 and 2020 it will then be 10 consecutive decades of success. Needless to say no other team can match this consistent triumph.
Amos.
LoL Amos. There is always someone bloody smarter then you!....my apologies, maths was never my greatest subject. Cant grumble with an extra decade....but you get my point ;)
gunnerman76
Are you still giving everybody that 10 consecutive seasons crap Amos? It's such a compelling statisitc that no-body in football has heard about it. Much less cares. The pity. Oh dear, you're warbling on like a talentless X-Factor finalist. I have to say i'm glad we're now out. At least we can concentrate on winning the real trophies, and leave your Mickey-Mouse club to focus on the Beer Pop Cup. You never know it might save your scrawny-assed manager from the chop. In fact, while we're on the subject of said nimble-fingered old codger, might i politely ask you what in the name of all that's reasonable he thinks he's doing pushing refs on the side-lines? He's got previous as well with Big Martin and Pardew. I can feel it in my water: this is the season that the Flying Squad catch up with him whilst he's doing his John Cleese impression and bang him to rights. Don't worry though. I'm sure your associates from just down the road will be happy to give him a joyful send- off.
Tony Rocky Horror
Ref Wiki: DENIAL is a defense mechanism postulated by Sigmund Freud, in which a person is faced with a fact that is too uncomfortable to accept and rejects it instead, insisting that it is not true despite what may be overwhelming evidence. Sigmund Frued must have been a spud fan!
gunnerman76
The whole article was a trap for an unwitting Spurs 'fan' - good form
bootoo
Thanks for going off topic again Tuesday's rocky horror. That cup you so gleefully mock is the only 1 the spuds have won in the last 20 years, wow feckin wee.
iceman10
Get serious, TRH! "...concentrate on winning the real trophies"? What are your chances? The only thing you stood a chance of coming close to was the Carling cup and you have just been bundled out; outclassed and outgunned! Face up to it like a man. We have run out of tear tissues here.
Naijagunner
TRH is clearly still in quite acute pain not having recovered from suffering the biggest home defeat in a NLD for 32 years. Oh the irony of hearing the spuds telling us that the CC is a meaningless mickey mouse trophy - he's right it is. Don't worry TRH the Flying Squad will leave Arsene well alone - they're too busy feeling Twitchy's collar on behalf of HMRC.
Amos.
I can almost see TRH's bottom lip wobbling like Elvis Presley's hips, as he swallows back the lump in his throat and says, "n-n-no, we don't care, *sniff* honest." Sort yourself out woman, I'm sure you can take a bit of refuge in that DVD collection.
Little Dutch
TRH, if possible your making spurs fan's look even more stupid, at least most of them debate and have knowledge on football, you are a clown that contradicts himself with almost every post.
gunner10
Newcastle away for the Carling Cup. Doesn't get any easier doesn't it?
jess_farenesh
Interesting use of stats used LD imo falsely suggesting the teams were fairly matched, in truth your midfield you selected was awesome. I think the most telling fact about the other night is that out of our first choice XI of Gomes, Corluka, King, Dawson, Bale, Lennon, Modric, Huddlestone, Van Der Vaart, Crouch and Defoe - only Lennon played and he came on as sub. Compared to Koscielny, Clichy, Rosicky, Nasri, Arshavin, Chamakh and arguably Wilshire (What a player btw) who played for you guys. In the long run i think a policy change by Wenger and winning a trophy for once would do a world of good for your young stars, the taste for trophys is addictive and a winning mentality is hard to come by. While i respect the way he always blooded youngsters in the competition i always thought he went abit too far in the past and gave the impression he didnt give a toss.
HuddersfieldYiddo
HY - I'm not disputing the fact that our starting 11 were a lot stronger then yours, to be fair all this "you only beat our 8th team" is a bit of a cop out, by any team. What team plays just 11 players through a whole season? That's what squads are for. I think your right about being addicted to winning. With the CC final being in Feb there is still a fair way of the prem to go and if your still in with a shout at the title I think it can give the team a big moral boost for the final push. Saying that, like Ive said before it is still WAY down on priorities. Must say it makes a change having a spud on here that actually talks about the topic and a bit of sense.....obviously a real football fan who sees a good player for what he is and not blinkered by what colour his shirt is.
gunnerman76
HY, if Keane and Pavluyuchenko aren't first teamers then Rosicky and Chamakh aren't. Clichy only came on because Gibbs got injured so he was never meant to play a single minute. So you are left with Nasri, Koscielny and Arshavin vs Lennon, Ekkotto, Palacios. You selective choose which team is your first XI then so will I.
gronedrone
Hi all, Just after a bit of information regarding the Newcastle game! I've been an Arsenal fan now for 18 years since I was born, and have always struggled to get tickets to the league games etc. But having drawn Newcastle in the LC when I am up in Newcastle for a family wedding it seems the best opportunity for me to try and get some tickets! I'd be really greatful if any of you could help me with any of the following: How much the tickets would be for an 18 year old in the Arsenal End? If i'd be able to get tickets, not being an arsenal member anymore (was part of the Junior Gunners) and I think thats all really, be really greatful for any info you could pass on to me! Cheers Jordan.
bear.imp
 

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