Ã¢â‚¬ËœCarling Cup triumph will lift weight off Arsenal shoulders’
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says winning the Carling Cup is key to continuing his side's good form
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admits beating Birmingham City to win the Carling Cup on Sunday would lift a substantial weight off his young side’s shoulders.
It has been six years since Patrick Vieira stroked home the winning penalty to seal a dramatic win over Manchester United in the FA Cup final and hand the Gunners their last piece of silverware.
“To win this trophy would give us a lift,” said Wenger. “There is a weight on the team at the moment. We have to deliver trophies because we have not won any.”
The Arsenal manager insists his side -second in the league and still fighting on all four fronts -have again punched above their weight this term. And for Wenger, emerging victorious from their first Wembley final in 13 years is key to stretching their successful run into the latter stages of the season.
“I’m not the only one for whom that is important,” he continued. “There’s the players’ feelings too. They say: Ã¢â‚¬ËœOK, we want to win a trophy to show you we can win one’. And I believe to win would give us a lift for the rest of the season.
“We have a good bond, a good confidence level and are highly determined to do well on all fronts. What will be vital for our success is that we focus well on the next game and give it the biggest importance. That’s the final game in the Carling Cup and will give everything to be successful.”
Wenger, whose side’s last trip to Wembley was an FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea in 2009, added: “We are on a very strong run now. If you look at the start of the season, we are well above the predictions of the specialists.
“What is important is not what happened in the last six years but what we can do from now on.”
Arsenal have beaten Alex McLeish’s side twice in the Premier League this season but despite lingering just three points above the relegation zone, Birmingham have won eight out of their nine knock-out cup ties this term.
The Gunners have only conceded two goals in their five Carling Cup clashes this season, meanwhile Birmingham have not kept a single clean sheet and have let in 13 in their last nine League Cup matches.
Arsenal won the only previous League Cup meeting between the two sides when they prevailed 4-1 (after extra-time) at Highbury in the third round in 1997.
Arsenal – Injured: Fabianski (shoulder),Fabregas (hamstring), Frimpong (knee), Vermaelen (Achilles), Walcott (ankle)
Birmingham City – Injured/unavailable: Bentley, Davies & Doyle (all cup-tied), Dann (hamstring), McFadden (knee), Valles (foot)