Tuesday 24 April 2018

Wenger warns team not to 'obsess' over trophy hunt

Nicklas Bendtner scored Arsenal's second gola to put them through to the next round of the Carling Cup. Photo: Getty Images
Nicklas Bendtner scored Arsenal's second gola to put them through to the next round of the Carling Cup. Photo: Getty Images

Arsene Wenger has urged his young team not to become obsessed by ending their trophy drought with the Carling Cup - and warned more hard work lays ahead before anyone can dream of Wembley glory.

The Gunners, fielding a team of some nine changes, moved into the semi-finals with a 2-0 victory over Barclays Premier League strugglers Wigan at a freezing Emirates Stadium last night following an own goal from Latics captain Antolin Alcaraz and a close-range effort by Nicklas Bendtner.

Manchester United's shock 4-0 defeat at West Ham now leaves the Gunners as hot favourites for the competition and to collect their first silverware since 2005.

However, Wenger insisted the team must stay focused.

"You cannot say that [a first trophy] is not important, but we should also not make obsession of that," the Arsenal boss said.

"We want to focus on the quality of our performances, and the rest will be the consequences of those performances.

"The major trophies are the Champions League and the [domestic] championship, but if we can win this as well, we will take it.

"We want to win trophies and be at the top, but you can only do as well as you can.

"At the moment, we are at the end of November and are in quite a good position in all of the competitions."

Aston Villa, who lost to United in last season's final, play Birmingham tonight, while West Brom travel to Ipswich in the other quarter-final.

The bookmakers may have already installed Arsenal as odds-on to win the Carling Cup, but Wenger warned against complacency.

"You have seen it in the Premier League, and with West Ham, that it can happen to Manchester United, to Chelsea and to us this season," he said.

"We have to accept there are no guarantees, even if we are in the semi-finals, that we will win the trophy - you have to fight in every single game to win."

Robin van Persie impressed on a first start since the end of August, but Arsenal were still without injured captain Cesc Fabregas, who has a hamstring problem, and may struggle to recover in time for the trip to Old Trafford on December 13.

"It is impossible to say at the moment," said Wenger.

"It is not a big injury, but we have to wait.

"In the next three days, we will know more."

Latics boss Roberto Martinez felt his side had shown great character, but admitted they were always up against it.

To add to their disappointment, Victor Moses was taken to hospital with a suspected dislocated shoulder following an awkward fall in the first half while striker Mauro Boselli limped off with a knee problem late on.

Martinez, though, insisted his squad would bounce back as they battle for Barclays Premier League survival.

"Now is one of the key moments, we need to regroup and act like men," he said.

"We are short in numbers, but not in character.

"It would be very easy to feel sorry for ourselves, but if we carry on working with levels have been showing, luck can change very quickly."

Press Association

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