Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Whiff of Silverware

The much-maligned Carling Cup now appears to Arsenal an oasis in the desert of their trophy drought.

And (he said conveniently) what an unfairly maligned competition it is. Despite the top teams using it as a testing ground for young talent, there are still a lot of competitive, exciting games.

And to those who would poo-poo Arsenal's prospective triumph, it should be remembered that either Manchester United or Chelsea have won five of the last six League Cup tournaments- success breeds success, trophies can lead to more trophies, Arsenal should be going all out to win it.

In the semi-finals, they will play Roy Keane's Ipswich, who have just dispensed with West Brom. The other semi will be contested by Birmingham and West Ham. There is certainbly nothing to fear in this line-up.

You'd be tempted to say that Arsenal should be able to win it while continuing to rotate. That said, an understrength United team has been humbled by the Hammers, showing the dangers of complacency. And Alex McLeish's Birmingham have never proved an easy touch against Arsenal.

It has to be said that a defeat over two legs against Ipswich would be little short of a disaster.

This Arsenal team's inability to win big games, and the lack of silverware that has led to, has surely become a burden for the players now. Here they are presented with three distinctly winnable games and a trophy waiting at the end. There are no more excuses. Field a weakened side and go out, Wenger will be crucified. Field a strong team and lose, it would be a new low for a team that at times seems scared of success.

Obviously, winning the Carling Cup after beating Spurs's 3rd team, Newcastle, Wigan, Ipswich and either Birmingham or West Ham would not prove a whole lot, but lifting that trophy could be a big psychological boost. It could lift that invisible weight off the players' shoulders and give them the hunger to chase more glory.

Let's hope that the end of the drought is in sight.

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