x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Wenger: Winning Carling Cup will do Arsenal wonders

Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager, believes winning the Carling Cup would give his young squad the confidence to challenge for more important trophies this season.

Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager, believes winning the Carling Cup would give his young squad the confidence to challenge for more important trophies this season.

Much has been made of the club's failure to win anything since 2005 when they the lifted FA Cup a year after their last Premier League triumph.

It has become an issue that even prompted vexed questions directed at Wenger by frustrated fans at the club's annual general meeting. But Wenger has consistently defended his policy of "organic growth".

In that sense the Carling Cup has been a training ground for Wenger to give his young players their first taste of senior football.

And while the team that takes the field in tonight's semi-final first leg at Championship side Ipswich Town will be a "second string", it is no longer so easy to make the distinction between first-choice players and reserves, such is the depth of experience in Arsenal's squad.

"We have always taken this competition seriously, but sometimes we had to prioritise given the demands of the league, the Champions League and the FA Cup," Wenger said.

"In the past some of our young teams that have been out there have fallen just short - but we have always gone for it.

"I don't feel an extra pressure to win this cup because we haven't won something for six years, but it is always good for the confidence of the players to win a trophy and also to please the fans. It can lead to other things."

Wenger may not risk Cesc Fabregas, his captain, from the start tonight at Ipswich's Portman Road, but Nicklas Bendtner is likely to start after a bit part so far this season.

"It would be fantastic to win a trophy early on in the season and have something to show for our work already," the Dane said.

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11.45pm, Aljazeera Sport +5