Posts Tagged ‘ Carling Cup ’

FA Cup vs Carling Cup: Which is more important for Arsenal now?

In life, there comes a time when we have to make some difficult choices, some things we have to make more important than the others. Prioritize some aspects and leave some stones unturned. Arsenal are in a similar state right now. For obvious reasons, the Premier League and the European Cup remain our priorities. Even though it is hard to admit it, there is a strong possibility that we will be kicked out of one of the two ‘weaker’ cups very soon.

Our squad this season has substantial depth and can withstand a bumpy run of fixtures more strongly than before. Consequently we find ourselves competing for all available trophies even in the middle of January (and are in respectable positions in all of them too). But as the fixtures get congested, Wenger will have to rotate the team heavily and inevitably we will not be able to put the same amount of quality/effort in all the competitions.

Hence we will be forced to choose between the two cups now. I am not saying we should ‘give up’ on any one of them, but prioritize one, realize that as we progress further our chances of being knocked out become stronger. This will become especially true when we suffer more injuries and some players start to feel the effects of fatigue (like Arshavin).  Last season this was not a problem become we played a largely second-string team in the Carling Cup, leaving the big guns to fight for more esteemed honors.

Arsene Wenger has made it clear, not once but twice, this season that he is taking all four competitions seriously. Just today he spoke about his targets for the season and how he will use the rotation technique to help his team cope during the most rigorous months of the year. He said:

“I will go for it [all four competitions], but we will have to rotate.

“Our success depends on the way the whole squad can focus on the different competitions. I believe we have the quality to qualify no matter what I do on Wednesday. It’s just how much we are able to focus on the competition.

“The timing is not the best but it is down to us because we could have beaten Leeds at home. We didn’t manage to do that but now there’s no reason why we should give up.

“I will prepare [for] this game to win it then we will see. It is important we go there with a positive attitude.”

It’s very ambitious of him to try doing so and I stand by his intentions. This Arsenal team includes players who have not yet won any major trophies in the whole of their careers and I believe until they get the taste of winning a trophy, any trophy, they will not grow the hunger for it. You do not become addicted to smoking until you had your first taste of a cigarette.

But the question remains, which trophy should Wenger concentrate more on? In which competition should he field a stronger team? The FA cup or the Carling cup? On first glace, the answer seems rather simple. The FA cup is more prestigious and Arsenal are a side that specializes in winning this cup (10 times). In fact the last match in which we won a trophy was the final against Manutd in the FA Cup (2005).

But the FA cup is still in its preliminary stages and Arsenal have to progress a lot further before they are in a realistic position to actually win it. Although it is called the FA cup ‘3rd round’, it is actually the 1st round for Premier League teams and there are still 64 teams in the competition currently(not counting the teams that have already progressed for the next round)! Whereas, in the Carling Cup, the completion is nearing its end and we are playing the semi-finals against Ipswich. Thus this aspect of the competition is very alluring as we are in a strong position to actually winning this competition and obtaining our first trophy since 2005.

In my opinion we should put more effort on winning the Carling Cup this season. A trophy which is so within our reach should not be ignored. We play Leeds United for the FA cup replay on Wednesday and I think Wenger should take a leap of faith and field a weaker side than the one that faced West Ham the other day. But what do you think- should Wenger fully concentrate on the match against Leeds on Wednesday and hope that the team remains unscathed or put winning on the line and rotate strongly? The FA cup or the Carling cup this season?

Do let us know.

Advertisements

Sending Vela out on loan

So Wenger confirmed it yesterday that Carlos Vela is most likely to go out on loan. It seems that Bolton is the most likely place he’ll be joining.

I had expected Vela to be used way more off the bench this season than he has been. Except for a handful of start for the Carling Cup and a couple of appearances in the Premier and Champions League, Wenger has kept him out of the pitch for most of the time. Although he’s still somehow scored 3 goals in competitive matches just shows that his goal scoring record isn’t as bad as most people may think.

Bolton is a great club to go on loan, especially for someone of Vela’s talent. Owen Coyle is also someone who seems to love Arsenal’s homegrown players. One of the reasons why Jack Wilshere got a start in the first team is because he had a great spell on loan at Bolton. Coyle started with Wilshere in most of the games and he handled the pressure with ease, played a solid midfield role. It did show Wenger that Wilshere was capable of putting his talent out on the ground and was influencing ball play. Hats off to Wilshere though for capitalizing on his opportunity and cementing his place in the first team. You’ll see talented players all over the world who play well day in and out in training, but it’s the mental aspect of the game which you can only assess in players while they’re playing at a competitive level.

Rather than bench warming and training with Arsenal, it’s best if Vela gets first team action. We all know what he’s capable of doing, but us fans need to see whether he can maintain consistency at the top level. I’m sure Vela knows that he has a future at Arsenal but our attacking options are plentiful and too competitive. He should understand that even Walcott, Arshavin and Bendtner are needed to wait in the bench for their chance. Hopefully he’ll play his heart out (wherever he goes on loan) and proves to Wenger that he deserves a starting place too. I want Wenger to have a first team selection headache 24/7!

But wait, what happened to David Moyes and his Everton transfer plans? I thought he was looking for attacking options to bring in on loan to replace his under-firing strikers? I would’ve been so happy in Vela was playing for a team like Everton, as most players who have loan spells there had great ones (such as Jo and Landon Donovan at recent times). He’d probably score a lot more goals at Everton than at Bolton, who have scored quite a few goals this season, thanks to the rejuvenated striking pair in Kevin Davies and Johan Elmander. Oh well, I don’t manage Everton though so it’s quite insignificant what I think from a Moyes’ perspective! As an Arsenal fan, I’ll be happy if he stays in the Premier League (because apparently Valencia want him too), starts often and most importantly, creates and scores goals in plenty.

No Magic Against Partizan

I know we shouldn’t be panicking for our match on Wednesday. It should be a straight forward game at the Emirates against a Partizan side that has lost all their Group Stage games so far. The pressure is still on!

We should expect a win. We should also expect Arsenal to come 2nd in the Group. This may seem horrible in every context of progressing further in the competition. It opens up the possibility of facing a team like Barcelona or Real Madrid, Manchester United or Chelsea, Inter or Bayern Munich right in the first knockout round. Most people would blow out Arsenal’s chances against these heavy weights straight away, but history suggests otherwise.

UCL Season Group Position Knocked out
06/07 1st Round of 16 (vs PSV Eindhoven)
07/08 2nd Quarter Final (vs Liverpool)
08/09 2nd Semi Final (vs Manchester United)

Although coming 1st in the Group Stages in the 06/07 season, Arsenal were knocked out to a much inferior opponent straight after in the Round of 16. On the contrary, when Arsenal finished 2nd in Group stages in the following 2 seasons, they progressed much further in the tournament and were knocked out by tougher oppositions.

In my opinion, it actually doesn’t matter where you finish in the Group Stages, as long as you qualify for the Knockout phase. After that, you have to consider all the teams as equally strong. The Champions League isn’t just one of the best competitions in the world without a reason. Teams who win make things happen and perform to their level best to tilt the result towards their favour, rather than waiting for the opponent to make a mistake.

What can we expect from Partizan tomorrow? Not too much. Since they don’t even have a chance for third spot, Partizan really have no pressure on them.  They do have a talented forward in Cleo, but I’m sure he won’t be too much of a handful for our defense.

I’m not expecting any magic from Arsenal this time around. All I expect is some great possession football and the conversion of most of the chances we create. We need to take matters in our own hands and win in a decisive manner, rather than depending on the Shakhtar vs Braga game.

The morale in the Arsenal camp is high. It is also with us fans. We’ve finally established ourselves as serious title contenders by sitting at pole position in the Premier League almost half way through the season. Our Carling Cup team has shown fantastic composure and consistency to reach the semi finals. It’s about time we can think of putting all those trophy-less seasons behind and win some silverware.

However, the Champions League isn’t silverware. It’s gold. So let’s put this game behind us quickly, and join the gold rush ASAP!