Arsenal's youngsters, who had been walking in the clouds following an impressive, accolade-laden Carling Cup run, were brought crashing down to earth by unfancied Burnley on Tuesday night.
Arsenal kids learn the hard way
Arsenal's youngsters, who had been walking in the clouds following an impressive, accolade-laden Carling Cup run, were brought crashing down to earth by unfancied Burnley on Tuesday night, with two goals from Kevin McDonald earning a 2-0 victory.
Arsene Wenger admitted the footballing education for his side, whose average age was 19, is far from complete, while Mikael Silvestre, the captain on a disheartening night at Turf Moor, was more harsh in his assessment. "If we are not stupid, then we won't do the same again," he said, disappointed at the way his team missed chance after chance and were sloppy defensively. "You have got to learn. They should have won and a lack of concentration has cost us two goals. We had chances and it's a shame. It will hurt for a while." Nicklas Bendtner, in particular, will wonder how he didn't score although Brian Jensen in the Burnley goal was outstanding. Wenger admitted: "It was a game we should never have lost. It is good education for our young players and you see those who have the quality to cope with the pressure, and those are not completely up to it yet. I felt we were quite naive in the way we took our chances."
The Burnley manager Owen Coyle highlighted one aspect of his side's play that probably made the difference and something every young player should have, no matter how talented. "We try and play in the right manner by getting the ball down and passing it. Arsenal are the yardstick," he said. "But you must have that hunger if you are going to succeed and we have that in abundance." For Burnley, the League Cup semi-finals await for the first time in 25 years. The Championship side had already knocked out Chelsea and after claiming another Premier League scalp, their belief is sky-high.
The hero Jensen says they can win the trophy, adding: "Why not? Anything can happen in football. With a good draw and a little bit of luck then who knows." That is what Derby County will also be thinking after they also dumped out a Premier League side in Stoke City thanks to Nathan Ellington's last-minute penalty. They are in the last four of a cup competition for the first time since Manchester United beat them in the FA Cup back in 1976 and manager Paul Jewell finally has something to smile about after a difficult time since taking charge at Pride Park. Relegation last season was followed by a bad start to this campaign, and Jewell said: "Our fans were humiliated last season by what happened and they at least have something to feel good about after this.
"Stoke showed us respect by playing most of the big-hitters, and it was then an examination of character after our last three away games, all defeats." The penalty was controversial, a handball against Andy Griffin which left Stoke fuming, but Ellington rolled it home and he added: "That's the style I like to take them in and it is slow, so if I miss I look an idiot, but thankfully I've not missed. My target now is to stay as the top scorer in the competition this season and hopefully we can get through to the final."