The bigger picture of Arsenal going out of the League Cup at the hands of Sheffield Wednesday on Tuesday night doesn’t look too bad, considering the fact both Chelsea and Manchester United both followed suit. In isolation, it looks out of place and embarrassing for the Gunners to get knocked over by a team languishing in ninth place in the second tier.
But as Jamie Carragher pointed out on Sky Sports last night about how not making it past the last 16 of the League Cup could be a blessing in disguise for both Arsenal and Manchester United.
“We’d all say Man City are the team we all fancy to win the title but I think for United and Arsenal it may not be the end of the world. They’re the two sides now you look at who could sneak the title from City. If [Sergio] Aguero was out for a long time, if [David] Silva was out for long time.
“Those three weeks that you get [from not playing in the Capital One Cup], the training sessions with the manager, fresh for the weekend. It could actually help them in the long run.
“They’ll be disappointed going out, the chance of a trophy gone, but in terms of the long run for the Champions League and trying to put pressure on Man City, it could actually work in their favour,” Carragher was quoted as saying on Sky Sports by Daily Mail.
As far as Arsenal are concerned, injuries to key members of the squad are annual phenomena, and as the ex-Liverpool defender said, going out of the League Cup at these early stages two months into the season will be music to Arsenal’s ears, at least on the front that the Gunners will have more time to recover.
The quarter-finals of the League Cup take place on the 1st of December, and had Arsenal made it through to the last eight, they’d be playing three games in the space of seven days plus an all important trip to Greece to face Olympiakos three days later.
Currently, the Gunners have eight players nursing various injuries in the treatment room, and with a good start to their Premier League campaign thus far, manager Arsene Wenger must be wary of letting League Cup exertions determine the fate of Arsenal’s race to the league title. The League Cup going out of the way for Arsenal is good riddance rather than silverware opportunity missed.
Wenger’s disregard for the competition was evident in his inquests following the Hillsborough defeat, saying: “The Premier League is our competition we want to focus on and ideally you want to win them all but we have to focus on the Premier League. We had six players at home, at least they didn’t get injured so we have to prepare well for Saturday.”
The prospect of injuries, or a lack thereof, to his players was of greater importance than the result for Wenger, and judging by his words, Arsenal are leaving no stone unturned this time around in their pursuit of the league title. Whether or not that happens come the season’s end remains to be seen, but at least the Gunners have one of the hurdles out of their way.