Arsene Wenger maintains giving youth a chance to shine in the Carling Cup will serve in the best interests of Arsenal’s future – whatever the outcome of tonight’s quarter-final at Manchester City.
Despite the disappointment of Sunday’s 3-0 home defeat by Barclays Premier League leaders Chelsea – which left the Gunners 11 points off the pace, albeit with a game in hand – Wenger will stick to the policy of handing vital big-match experience to the younger members of his squad.
The Carling Cup has long been a breeding ground for Arsenal stars of the future, with Cesc Fabregas, now the Gunners’ captain, making his debut as a 16-year-old against Rotherham during October 2003.
Wenger sees no reason why the current crop of youthful talent, which includes reserve captain Kyle Bartley, pacy forward Sanchez Watt, versatile Craig Eastmond – who are all 18 – and 19-year-old Spaniard Fran Merida, who netted a spectacular strike against Liverpool in the last round, should not go on to become first-team regulars.
“Let’s keep the faith in our young players who keep waiting for this game and I want to give them a chance to play,” said the Arsenal manager.
“I believe any result should not influence too much your policy. We know what we want to do in the Carling Cup but we also want to win it.
“It is a cup game and I believe, in a cup game, anything is possible.”