Tonight a significantly under strength Arsenal team gave Olympiacos a run for their money in Athens. Ok, so the Gunners had no answer to the second Greek goal, but there were some encouraging signs for Wenger in the sprightly performance of Alex Oxlade Chamberlain and especially the attacking football of Tomas Rosicky, whose direct style they have missed terribly.
On Saturday the Gunners face West Brom in what it already being billed as a win or bust match for the team. Lose that game and the clamour for change at the top will grew significantly louder. Ironically though as important as the Baggies’ visit is it is the game next Tuesday that may prove to be of greater significance for The Gunners.
The Arsenal cup drought now extends to seven seasons. If it is not going to be eight Arsenal will either have to win the FA Cup or the Capital One Cup. I am assuming that any number of European teams will be too strong for them and that the Premiership title really is gone now too.
So the Capital One Cup presents a great opportunity for Arsene to get his hands on some silverware. A win against Bradford, which even an under performing Arsenal side should surely manage, would propel the team into the last four. Of the remaining seven teams the only side that Arsenal really need fear is Chelsea and heaven knows what type of state (and indeed who the manager might be) they will be if they qualify for the semis.
The thing about the Capital One cup is that it does provide a club with chance to feel like they are winners. The current Arsenal squad do not have the look and feel of a team of winners, though many players have actually got any medals to show for their footballing endeavours, including; Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Rosicky, Arteta, Podolski, Giroud and Arshavin. The sad part is that none of them were with Arsenal.
Win one competition and the trophyless fog that has descended over The Emirates will be lifted for good. Also Arsenal have a bit of history in using the League Cup to kick start a run of success. George Graham’s first silverware was the League Cup Final of 1987 where they beat Liverpool 2-1 with both the goals coming from Charlie Nicholas. Two years later Graham had his hands on the Championship title and the FA Cup and European success, as well as another league title, followed soon after.
Someone else who knows the value of the League Cup is Fergie. Back in 2006 Manchester United overcame a Wigan side to win the trophy, a game which in many ways reignited his managerial career and lead to a run of Premiership titles.
Finally there is also the feeling that the team might bury that awful moment in the 2011 final when a defensive error gifted the trophy to Birmingham City.
So don’t expect Arsene to be playing down the Capital One Cup, it could be Arsenal’s most important competition this year.
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