Martin Keown thinks that the League Cup still has plenty of advantages, and that the low attendance at the Emirates was more a sign of where Arsenal are at than the competition itself.
Arsenal reportedly had a record low attendance for a competitive fixture at the Emirates, with only 44,064 turning up for Wednesday’s game against Doncaster Rovers. Martin Keown was asked in his Daily Mail column whether the big clubs should be pulled out of the EFL Cup.
In defence of the cup, Keown responded: “We need trophies to go around. Mourinho won the Europa League and League Cup last season, targeted them. They give the team confidence to go forward to better things – like the start of this season.
“He has the players to be competitive in each but other clubs aren’t quite as strong in terms of their squads.
“The attendance at the Emirates might tell you where Arsenal are the moment. Traditionally that was one of the games people went to watch because they couldn’t get tickets for the Premier League or Champions League.
“On your shopping list of trophies at the start of the season, the League Cup is not top. But it is a platform for young players to play at top clubs. And goalkeepers are nominated as first choice for that cup and others. Not every club can do that. You have to use it in the way that is best for you.”
The League Cup is certainly an opportunity to get into the team for some players. There’s little chance that Josh Dasilva and Joe Willock would be thrown straight into the action in the Premier League, even as substitutes. For a start, Arsenal’s squad is too big for the pair to even manage a bench place most weeks.
But that’s not to say they aren’t good enough, they’re just inexperienced, and the Premier League is unforgiving. The League Cup helps bridge the gap between the youth teams and the senior sides in bigger competitions.
If Dasilva plays again against Norwich, and puts in a good performance, perhaps then he’ll get a Europa League group stage game or two, then maybe an FA Cup start if the Gunners get a favourable draw, or a loan to a decent club in January. Same goes for the others who played on Wednesday.
Plus, if Arsenal find themselves making it to the later rounds, a League Cup trophy win could do for the Gunners what it did for United last season. As long as it doesn’t become a distraction, it can be a useful competition.