Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager, has admitted to added pressure after more than half a decade without a major trophy and, as a result, has signalled a shift in his philosophy of using the Carling Cup to blood youngsters.
The Frenchman has confirmed that the strong team he selected for the previous round was not a one-off because of the importance of beating rivals Tottenham Hotspur, and his side will not be significantly weakened tonight against Newcastle United when a place in the quarter final is at stake.
"First of all because we have a big squad, and as well I believe we have a good squad enough to go forward with trophies, that's why I think, 'Okay let's go as far as we can'," Wenger said. "I said that we are going for every single trophy. Of course we will rotate some players but we will go with the big core of the first team. It will be similar to what we did at Tottenham. The only thing I can guarantee is that we will go with a team of first-team experience at 80 per cent."
It is more than five years since a trophy for Wenger – only Cesc Fabregas remains from the 2005 starting line-up that defeated Manchester United in the FA Cup in Cardiff – and during that time youngsters have been played in the early rounds of the cup competitions.
Wenger, who was yesterday named by Fifa as one of the nominees for World Coach of the Year, has been criticised by his own supporters for dismissing a genuine chance of silverware by not fielding stronger teams away from the Premier League.
Last season Arsenal were knocked out by Manchester City with a team that included Craig Eastmond and Fran Merida, while Paul Rodgers, Mark Randall and Gavin Hoyte featured the year before in the defeat to Burnley at Turf Moor. Wenger conceded there is added pressure because of their silverware drought, despite consistently qualifying for the Champions League.
He said: "You can see what we have done is quite remarkable but we want more. I can understand that people want more and we want to give them more. That's what we want to do and we want to achieve. We want to respond with the maximum commitment to the demands of people. We want to go as high as we can. People forget that we have been at the top every year but we want to add to what people want from us and we want as well."Reuse content