Arsenal’s 2-1 defeat in the Carling Cup final to Premier League strugglers Birmingham has certainly caused upset amongst the players. Arsenal looked to end their trophy drought, originating from 2005, with a win and more importantly a morale boost ahead of the return leg against F.C Barcelona in the Champions League. The faces of dejection were clear to see on Sunday night, but Wenger insists his players must look towards the bigger picture that is the Premier League, “The Carling Cup is four or five games, but a championship season is 38. We will not throw 38 games away because of one game”.
Wenger’s post-match interview seemed to reassure most fans, as he stated:
“I am confident we have the character and this is a good opportunity to show it.”
“It is a good opportunity to show that we have the mental strength to respond to the situation.”
Indeed, loosing matches, including cup finals, are all part and parcel of professional football and it would be wrong to assume that there would be no comeback from both the managers and the players. They are all paid professionals who take loosing as an opportunity to improve and strengthen. Losing to Birmingham could be the wake-up call those players need ahead of their most important fixture against Barcelona. Having tasted cup defeat, I am sure those players will want to rectify the situation by capitalising on their 2-1 home win against the Catalan giants. No doubt the team Wenger fielded on Sunday night will be very similar to the line-up against Barcelona, and those players will certainly not want a repeat performance.
The Arsenal players certainly have the opportunities to show their true class, with the Barclays Premier League, F.A cup and UEFA Champions League still within their grasp. Perhaps the only worrying factor in Wenger’s plans is the injury of captain Francesc Frabregas, who when fit, has certainly made an impact this season.
So can Arsenal put their Carling Cup defeat behind them? Their reputation and footballing flare will certainly work in their favour. However, Arsenal’s recent history may suggest that high pressure matches prove too much for a relatively youthful squad, and it may be no surprise that the vastly more experienced Barcelona team prevail. Yet, Wenger and his players can certainly make headway in the league, despite being four points off Manchester United and an F.A cup win over Leyton Orient beckons. The players are certainly not without talent, but can a once highly successful club prove silverware is not beyond them and bounce back from a disappointing cup final?