Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger reacts coolly to being handed a Fourth Round Capital One Cup clash with Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger wants to win the Capital One Cup to end a barren nine seasons without putting a major trophy in the Emirates cabinet.
But after winning on penalties after a 1-1 draw at West Bromwich Albion in their Third Round tie at the Hawthorns, the top of the Premier League Gunners have been handed the tough task of facing London rivals Chelsea in the Round 4.
Not that Wenger showed much concern when told of the Fourth Round draw, which at least gives his team home advantage against Jose Mourinho’s Blues.
“Interesting,” was his cool response, the Arsenal boss preferring to praise the young players who helped get his team over the line in the penalty shoot-out.
With the visitors 3-1 down in the spot-kicks showdown, 18- year-old Kristoffer Olsson and his fellow substitute Chuba Akpom,17, slotted in the third and fourth penalties to set up a 4-3 shoot-out win.
Wenger said: “The young players on the penalties coped well. Technically it’s not the most difficult [skill], but it’s more dealing with the pressure.”
The manager had made his choice of penalty takers, he explained: “because they were the players who had not played the two hours and they were fresh, and everybody else had cramps or knocks.
“You take in the end what is left and they coped well. It’s a bit of a lottery, penalties, but for me the most important thing is that we play well during the game and that the young players show they can play the style we want to play.”
The young Gunners certainly played in Wenger’s team’s customary style, but they were fortunate to survive a latte barrage by the Baggies and the manager will hope to have more senior players available come the visit of Chelsea.
“It was good experience [for the youngsters],” said Wenger. “It’s always good to know you can win even if you think you are dead and tired. If you dig deep and are rewarded, that’s a very important lesson for a young player.”
Despite the positive performance of his starlets, will Wenger plunge them in to take on Chelsea?
“I don’t know yet,” he said, “it will depend on injuries. I had no choice tonight, I had to rotate because I had many senior players out.”
As to taking on Chelsea for the first time since Mourinho returned as the Blues manager, Wenger simply said: “It will of course be an interesting game.
“Chelsea have a very large squad and so we know we shall play against a Premier League team, but on our side we shall be at home. It will be very interesting.”