Arsenal duo sense Carling Cup chance as Gunners handed Ipswich semi-final
Carling Cup semi-final draw: Ipswich Town v Arsenal West Ham v Birmingham
ARSENE Wenger wants Arsenal fans to stop being ‘obsessed’ with winning a trophy, but feels the Gunners now have a great chance to lift the Carling Cup after the semi-final draw paired them with Championship side Ipswich Town.
The two meetings with the Tractor Boys in January will see Arsenal lock horns once again with their former Manchester United adversary Roy Keane, now in charge at Portman Road.
Keane’s side, who defeated West Bromwich Albion 1-0 on Wednesday night to reach the last four, are struggling for form in the Championship, however, with nine defeats from 19 games seeing them in 16th place.
Arsenal would have expected stiffer opposition at this stage, but Manchester United’s exit at West Ham on Tuesday night was followed by that of Aston Villa at Birmingham on Wednesday. West Ham will face Birmingham in the other-semi-final in January.
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Despite Arsenal being installed as firm favourites to end their five-year trophy drought, Wenger insisted that he is not overly concerned about the lack of silverware: “There are two things that you want,” said the Frenchman. “You want to win trophies and always be at the top. We have managed to be at the top over the years and if we can add the trophies it can be even better.
“You cannot say it [winning trophies] is not important but you can’t make an obsession of it. We want to focus on the quality of our performances and the rest will be the consequence of our performances.
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“But you can only do as well as you can and at the moment we are at the end of November and we are in all the competitions in quite a good position.
“The supporters want more always – and that is completely natural. But we have played 14 consecutive years in the Champions League. Many people would be happy with that.
“We are not completely happy with that and we want to make our supporters as happy as we can. The major trophies are the Champions League and the Premier League but if we can win this competition then we will take it.”
There were plenty of positives in Tuesday’s 2-0 win over Wigan for Wenger, who saw striker Robin van Persie make his first start since August after recovering from an ankle injury, while Nicklas Bendtner scored the second goal and is back in contention for an arduous winter schedule that begins in earnest with Fulham’s visit to the Emirates on Saturday.
“Robin has shown class,” added Wenger. “He still needs games, he was out for a long time but it’s already positive that he could play 70 minutes [on Tuesday]. Let’s hope he has no reaction then he will become stronger and stronger.
“Up front there is a lot of competition so everyone needs a lot more reassurance.”
Meanwhile midfielder Denilson feels that the Carling Cup can act as a catalyst for the Gunners to go on and lift further trophies this season.
The 22-year-old Brazilian is among the many current players at the Emirates who are yet to win a trophy and he admitted: “If we can win the Carling Cup first then it will give us good confidence to go for the Champions League and the Premier League.
“The fact that Manchester United are out does mean we have a better chance, but we still need to focus on every game now. It’s the same in all the competitions, we are still in all of them and we have a chance if we focus on every game.”
Denilson was part of the side that lost Arsenal’s last Carling Cup final to Chelsea in 2007, but feels the time has come to finally get hold of a winners’ medal.
“I was 18 when we lost that final to Chelsea,” added the Brazilian. “It hurt and we want to win a trophy now. All the players are together and focused on this, and this season we want to do it.”
Arsenal travel to Portman Road for the first leg of the semi-final on January 11/12, with the second leg back at the Emirates on January 25/26.
The Carling Cup final is at Wembley on Sunday, February 27.