Thursday, 27 January 2011

Carling Cup Misconception

It has quietly bubbled under the surface with rare outings in recent months. This week though, the world couldn’t resist waiting any longer for the headline.

Arsenal takes the Carling Cup seriously shocker

Then for the countless discussions about:

Our standards dropping
How it’s a sign of desperation that we haven’t won anything since 2005
How we’ve mocked our near neighbours for years about their ambitions in the League Cup.

Now the later is most definitely true but that is with very good reason. That was their sole aim and yes they did take it far too seriously. Does that mean weren’t allowed to celebrate reaching a domestic final? Well if you listen to the enemy we are hypocrites etc. Then again who cares what they think? They are just being annoying to justify their existence.  The fact remains that we have reached the Carling Cup final because our youth development is finally reaping the rewards it deserves. So yes celebrate away for an achievement that other clubs have spent millions on to win.

Now casting our minds back to 2007 and that final in Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium, the Arsenal players who were named in the squad for Chelsea final in 2007 included:

Manuel Almunia #2 goalkeeper aged 29
Armand Traore aged 17
Cesc Fabregas aged 19
Denilson aged 17
Johan Djourou aged 20
Emmanuel Eboue aged 23

It would have also included Alex Song but he was loaned to Charlton in January 2007 but he still scored in the memorable 6-3 win at Anfield.

Now I’m not naive enough to think Wenger truly believed that every player he’s ever brought through would be good enough for our 1st team but most are given their chance in this competition and remember Justin Hoyte featured all the way through the competition that year and started in the final. The point is inexperience has cost us for years, but now that the same player s that we’ve been using for years are maturing. That has been twisted into it’s a case that we are taking this cup too seriously.  Of the 6 players from the 16 selected that day in 2007, 3 are regular first team players (4 including Song) and 3 are used regularly for squad rotation. Wenger should be getting praised by various sections of the media for bring players on and reaping the rewards. Do the media care that these players started their road to 1st team status by plying their trade in the Carling Cup? Well they never let the facts get in the way of a good story.

More players were to follow in the next few years

2007/8: Gibbs, Bendtner, Fabianski.  Henri Lansbury (mainly as a sub)
2008/9 Jack Wilshere
2009/10 Wojciech Szczesny

Those player between them have amassed 133 Carling Cup appearances

1. Djourou 17
2. Denilson 16
3. Bendtner 15
4. Walcott 14
5. Fabregas 13
6. Traore 12
7. Gibbs 11
7. Fabianski 11
9. Diaby 10
10. Wilshere 9
11. Szczesny 5
11. Lansbury 5

As a result, we have accumulated six 1st team players and six squad players.  Which isn’t bad going, nor is it a sign that we take this cup competition more seriously than we have done in the past. The players are just developing and becoming more equipped to deal with such competitions. I went on record (favourited on particular twitter accounts) to say ‘winning the carling cup would be an excellent achievement’ and it would because of the time invested in our youth programme.  I’m not going to act is if the Carling Cup is a massive achievement because it’s not in terms of Arsenal Football Club, those accolades belong to the Premier League and Champions League but this can only continue to help our side and youngsters develop and deal with bigger occasions. However for the likes of Denilson, Fabregas, Szczesny and Djourou they will see it as a good achievement given that it was in this very competition that they made their debuts for The Arsenal.

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