The League Cup is now entering the stage of when the remaining big boys who are flying the flag in Europe enter the fray, and without question the tie of the round is Tottenham vs. Arsenal. Three seasons ago The Gunners visited White Hart Lane and were left humiliated, as they missed out yet again on a cup final appearance by a 5-1 battering. Wenger was publicly slated by the media and fans, including myself, having received more stick from friends and work colleagues than a dog in the park. The big question remains: will he have learned his lesson and play a stronger side? Or persist with the kids?
This is a competition that Arsenal desperately needs to win – a quality team that are without a trophy for 5 years. Of course there are bigger fish to fry in the Premier League and Champions League but as yet Arsenal haven’t found a big enough net to make the catch! Since that semi-final night in 2008, Spurs have become a vastly improved team who now play Champions League football – it’s easy to see that they are better now than then. Tuesday night will be a huge test for Arsenal, in a game they need to win.
Playing down the importance of competitions such as the Carling Cup and FA Cup has proven highly expensive in recent years and has subsequently added unnecessary pressure in the League and Europe. They have lacked a grit, toughness and backbone in the past to win the more illustrious trophies. Wenger must see this competition as an excellent opportunity to win silverware, previously it may have been considered a good move to ‘blood’ youth, but not any more, these are times where results and silverware count for a club of Arsenal’s magnitude. They have been handed a tough draw but maybe this is the best way for Wenger to swallow his pride and play a stronger team with a core of his best 11. The talking has to stop; this trophy DOES mean something to the fans, and its worth remembering bragging rights are at stake too.
Here is a list of the other ties in the League Cup this week, including five all Premier League ties and a tricky away fixture for holders’ Manchester United at Glanford Park against Scunthorpe United.
Brentford v Everton
Portsmouth v Leicester City
Stoke City v Fulham
Chelsea v Newcastle United
Aston Villa v Blackburn Rovers
Millwall v Ipswich Town
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Notts County
Burnley v Bolton Wanderers
Birmingham City v MK Dons
Liverpool v Northampton Town
Scunthorpe United v Manchester United
West Bromwich Albion v Manchester City
Sunderland v West Ham United
Peterborough United v Swansea City
Wigan Athletic v Preston North End