Former Arsenal striker Jay Bothroyd is delighted the Gunners are in the Carabao Cup final, but feels it sums up Arsene Wenger’s demise, as it was considered a throwaway competition.
Bothroyd was full of praise for Arsenal after they beat Chelsea in the semi-finals to reach Wembley for a 10th time in four years, but believes the Carabao Cup was a competition the Gunners never used to take seriously as they were gunning for major honours.
Great win tonight, a real team performance!👍🏽 in the back of my mind though I keep thinking….
Without being pessimistic of course this is the Carabao cup…. a competition where we used to play our youth team throughout the whole competition when our 1st was challenging?
— Jay bothroyd (@jaybothroyd) January 24, 2018
It’s probably true that Arsenal used to take the League Cup less seriously. That was the case for a lot of the big sides, not just the Gunners. Five years ago, Swansea City and Bradford City were both finalists.
It’s not true anymore though. Since that 2013 final, Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United have won the competition. Now the Gunners will prepare for a final against City, after beating Chelsea in the semis.
Clearly the bigger sides see the cup as a good chance to pick up silverware, however much Pochettino denies it. Plus, it’s not as if the first-team players have featured heavily throughout the competition.
Theo Walcott scored the winner in the opening round, before leaving for Everton because he hadn’t started a single Premier League game. Eddie Nketiah, 18, scored both the equaliser and the winner against Norwich City.
Joe Willock ran the show in the middle against West Ham. The youth and fringe players were a key part of the earlier rounds. I’m sure the likes of Olivier Giroud and Danny Welbeck would’ve played in the semi-final too if not for injury.
With Walcott at Everton while Welbeck and Giroud are in the injury room, Arsenal didn’t have much choice but to play their first-team players. Perhaps they could’ve started Reiss Nelson and Eddie Nketiah, but against Chelsea’s first-team that could’ve backfired badly.
For me, Wenger didn’t have much reason not to pick his best team. The Gunners have a free weekend after the FA Cup exit, so there was no need to rest key players. Still, maybe it does show a shift in priorities somewhat.
We’ll see who starts the final next month.