Is Arsène Wenger taking the Carling Cup more seriously? Comparing Arsenal selection policies since 2004

Arsène Wenger has a well-known reputation for using the League Cup as a stepping stone for star young players, the likes of Fabregas, Van Persie, Walcott and Alex Song are all established first teamers who have played in previous campaigns. This season Wenger’s selection policies have changed, but how much, and does this mean he is desperate for any success?

Courtesy of Wowtheworld under Creative Commons Licence

Much debate centred over whether Wenger’s youth policy devalued the competition. The answer is yes. However, the value of a fourth competition, with an unbalanced system where the richest teams enter with only four games to the final is debatable. That debate continues elsewhere (see WSC here and here).

In light of the fact that Arsenal have won no major trophy since 2005, Wenger is under pressure to take the League Cup more seriously, and use first team players to try and pick up a trophy, creating a winning mentality.

This season a change has been noted in the approach, with much of the press picking up on the fact that Arsène Wenger has actually been taking the League Cup ‘seriously’. The question is, how different is the policy compared to previous years?

Continue reading “Is Arsène Wenger taking the Carling Cup more seriously? Comparing Arsenal selection policies since 2004”

Time to review Carling Cup strategy following FA Cup defeat

This is a guest post by Vertino of Gunners Today

It might sound strange to mention this now but it is high time we considered this. Last weekend we lost to Chelsea again in a big cup match. Of course most of the blame was shared between the curious case of Wenger’s team selection and Fabianski’s moments of utter madness but that is not up for debate this time round.

Image courtesy of wjarrettc

From next season I believe Arsene should scrap the policy of fielding an entirely youthful side in the Carling Cup. My excitement on discovering the Arsenal youngsters is tinged with disappointment; a realisation that most of these players for many reasons won’t make it at the Emirates. Cesc is the only player in recent years who has made the transition successfully. In that time we have seen the likes of Quincy, Lupoli, Larsson exit the red half of North London.

Does that mean youngsters shouldn’t get the opportunities? Of course not! For me the only youngsters I want to be seeing are those with outstanding talent and/or with the right mental attributes such as determination and composure. Gibbs is a perfect example of the latter specified criteria.

I am looking at it in terms of percentages, and my suggestion would be to field a lower number of youngsters. Perhaps Arsene could involve only 5-7 youngsters in the entire match squad. Or he could filter the numbers as the stakes increase, so start with 7 youngsters in the 4th round, 6 in the next round etc etc.

If you play the best of the best youth it means the rest of the team is fairly experienced. This playing environment fosters a quicker growth for youngsters. This is exactly why Cesc has gone on to become such a pivotal player for the Gunners because he was able to play and learn with the likes of Vieira and Gilberto. Just imagine how much Wilshere and Ramsey can learn if they play with experienced players all the time.

Remember the best players i.e. Gerrard, Scholes, Carrick, etc had a lot of experience surrounding them when they were young. This is a privilege Denilson, Diaby and Song no longer have. It forces them to learn by themselves, slowing their development a great deal and sometimes exposes them in big matches against more experienced players.

I seriously hope Wenger considers this for next season as his current strategy has yet to pay off in terms of competitions won. In Arsene we trust, but we can question his decisions sometimes, can’t we?

By Vertino

Jay Simpson scores for West Brom: Loan Update

Jay Simpson scored West Brom’s first goal last night against Peterborough in the FA Cup 3rd Round replay, which helped them to a 2 – 0 win.

He scored on 17 minutes,and was was replaced by Craig Beattie in the 71st minute, but great to see him get his first Baggies goal.
Jay has got me quite excited this season, his goal in the Carling Cup against Wigan was sublime, and the experience he will get with West Brom is invaluble. He is performing well for them and the more goals and games he gets the better!

Next season I think he could be challenging for a place in the Arsenal first team.

What are your opinions?

Update: Watch the highlights here, at ITV. (Thanks to Dosboss for the link)

Burnley 2 – 0 Arsenal Highlights – Out of the Carling Cup

Burnley 2 – 0 Arsenal: McDonald 6, 57 Highlights: Goal 1, Goal 2

After the euphoria of the win at Stamford Bridge, a very young Arsenal side were unlucky to lose to Burnley at Turf Moor.

Burnley played very well and gave Arsenal little space, and took their chances. Meanwhile Arsenal had several one on ones with the keeper, but failed to put away easy chances. In the end it wouldn’t have been unfair for Arsenal to win, but the more clinical Burnely went through.

It is a little disappointing that we went out of the cup so early, it was fun watching the youngsters thrash Sheffield Utd and Wigan, but they couldn’t get past Burnley.

Arsenal 3 – 0 Wigan highlights, Carling Cup Kids win in style!

I watched a fantastic young Arsenal side beat Wigan tonight. The average age of our team was just 18.7 years old, and they played fantastically, and beat Wigan with 3 excellent goals and dominated the game with large amounts of possession.

Arsenal started well with plenty of great chances keeping Kirkland very busy. We could have had 5 in the first half, Vela, Wilshere, Simpson and Ramsey all sparkling.

Wilshere set up the first goal, he played a defence splitting pass through the middle to Simpson who poked it past the onrushing Kirkland.

In the second half a punch out by Fabianski to Ramsey who played an amazing long ball 2/3s of the pitch, Vela was running onto it and beat the defender, rushing into the box, and pulling it back for Simpson to smash home another.

Minutes later, a run forward from Djourou and a lovely pass forward put through Vela. His first touch was amazing, and under pressure he put a delightful lob over Kirkland to make it 3.

Click here to view the full highlights.

The whole team played fantastically and Wenger has pledged to stick with them. Why not? He says they are the most complete youth side we have ever had.

Very exciting to watch, and I think some of those names will be much more familiar to us come next season.

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Arsenal vs. Wigan – Vela and Bischoff in! Adebayor singing!

Arsenal play Wigan tonight in the Carling Cup, the squads have been announced, we’ve got Bischoff set to make his debut, and Vela should play up front with Ramsey and Wilshere in midfield.

The Boss has been talking about what a gamble signing Bischoff was this summer, he had injury problems for a few years, and he didn’t play much for Werder Bremen.

Also have a look at this video of Adebayor singing at Stamford Bridge!

Lovely stuff!

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