Why Arteta’s young squad should go all out to win the Carabao Cup

WHY THE “MICKEY MOUSE’ TROPHY SHOULD BE ON ARSENAL’S RADAR THIS SEASON by Mohamed Rafi

Mikel Arteta’s youthful Arsenal side saw themselves through to the Quarter Finals of the Carabao Cup by cruising past a rather lukewarm Leeds outfit after a 2-0 victory. The details of the game may not be worth looking into (as one would expect a Wednesday night cup fixture to be), but it was worth noting what seemed to be the birth of an unusual desire, a naive longing to win a competition that is so often overlooked as a mere opportunity to groom the youth and transition young players into first team football.

“Why?”, one may ask. Not ‘why the sudden desire to win it’, but rather ‘why is there such a disregard to a ‘major honour’ in English football’. The answer seems to lie in the very fact that it is a hindrance in the already packed schedule of modern-day football clubs and does not offer anything unique as opposed to the other two or potentially three major honours. Can it be considered a standardised system of rankings, promotions and relegations like the English football league system? No. Is it a shot at European glory and a chance to establish your name on the continental stage? Is it the oldest and most competitive domestic cup competition in the world? Well for as long as the FA Cup exists, the answer shall remain no.

The fact that Manchester City have won the last 4 editions of this competition on the bounce says enough about how, in a competition where most Premier League managers would not bother to field their best 11, the bigger your squad is, the deeper you can possibly go. You do not see Jurgen Klopp risking Naby Keita in a mid-week game away at Doncaster Rovers, do you? However, the deeper a team goes into the “mickey mouse” competition, the tide turns, and an air of prestige starts to hover around the prospect of winning a trophy.

As Arsenal enter the last eight of the Carabao Cup, the situation could not be more similar. A little over a year ago, we lifted the FA Cup against all odds. With the kind of trophy droughts that big clubs are experiencing nowadays (I just needed a reason to mention Man Utd.), the importance of winning trophies, ANY TROPHY, cannot be understated.

More so with the emergence of youth in our squad. Only those who lived through the post-Highbury era would know the amount of young talent that we lost due to the lack of belief that we’re ever going to be competitive again. Fabregas, Nasri, Adebayor, RVP, and the list goes on.

fa cup

We have assembled the youngest squad in the Premier League and own some of the brightest prospects in English Football, and dare I say, world football, in the likes of Smith Rowe, Saka, Gabriel, etc. They have signed up for this on the back of a promise that they will be led to glory, by competing, and being up there with the big boys in terms of winning trophies.

The hunger and desire of this young core could soon turn into pessimism and dissatisfaction if we do not instill faith in them that they will be competitive soon enough. We do not need to look farther than the captain of our North London rivals, who penned down a 6-year deal and has pressure building on him every summer, because he has a grand total of zero trophies to show for his unbelievable individual career at the age of 28. Not even the Carabao Cup for that matter.

Having seen five years of no Champions League football, and this year being completely out of Europe for the first time in 25 years, Arsenal do not have as much to compete for as the other big names in English football, but at the same time, have what I strongly believe is a team that can push as far as anyone in the domestic cups. At the time of writing this I know we have Sunderland in the Quarter Finals, but I simply cannot stress how big of an opportunity we have on our hands here and how important it could be for Arteta’s project to go “BANG!” as he likes to call it.

COYG!!!

Mohamed Rafi

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28 Comments

  1. fairfan says:

    To be honest there is way too much football.
    A summer 7 month season mid April – Oct is entirely possible with a two week break from late June . I’m quite happy with a 28 game PL season. Two 10 team divisions North and South.
    Play the 9 teams in your division twice and the other ten just once. This means playing local rivals twice but teams far away only once.
    Top team in each division play off in the final.

    1. Admin Pat says:

      And where does the World Cup, Afcon and Euros fit in?

  2. A J says:

    Apologies for going off topic here, but “young squad” is mentioned in the title of this article.

    One aspect of the process that is now coming to fruition which has gone totally under the radar , and bodes well for the future, is we are now at long last building a strong “asset” base in terms of players of value.

    For too many years we hid behind the morale stance of being a “self sustaining model”, when in reality it became increasingly clear this was increasingly doomed to failure.

    The reason being as the years ticked by, and with the Emirates looming over us, the players we had were becoming of less interest to teams looking to strengthen – our players simply did not live up to that billing.

    I accept that Covid came along and skewed the market, but we prior to that you could see the “self sustaining model” was heading for failure.

    The last window in particular looks to have great potential in at last presenting the club with the opportunity to build a solid base of players who could be turned over at a profit.

    Personally I hope this squad is built upon for many years to come, but at last we have a workable “portfolio” of players- and that arose from the playing out of the much maligned “process”.

    1. Mohamed Rafi says:

      Couldn’t agree more. The continuous injection of cash in the league coming from financial super-powers is simply too much for a self sustaining model to compete with. I’m not old enough to have witnessed any project so heavily reliant on the youth(in the Premier League at least), but I simply cannot wait to see it take shape and find consistency. Fingers crossed!

  3. gotanidea says:

    Our main target should be a European competition ticket, so we shouldn’t put our first team players at high risk

    1. Adajim says:

      Wining a cup and finish higher than last season is achievable, why not go for both. If we could finish in top 5 win conference league next season , we could start competing with the big boys again in 2yrs.
      Hopefully we invest all our transfer budget on a strong cf next summer.
      This summer was for spine and adding a marquee signing of 70m striker should complete the puzzle

      1. gotanidea says:

        Our fringe and squad rotation players need game time, so let them play in cup games and keep the first team players for EPL/ important matches

      2. Johnze says:

        Sadly we’ll probably first see spurs winning conference league this year.

    2. Mohamed Rafi says:

      You make a good point but this is where Arteta’s rotation strategies will be tested. It is possible to have a shot at one without compromising the other. If we had said the same during the FA Cup run (when we had a far more inferior squad) then Arteta wouldn’t be in the job today.

  4. Harold. Gun. says:

    Most players want a gold medal for keepsake and to be admired at age 60+.no matter what trophy. The word young guns seems to be missing as all are talking senior, senior. The young guns must get alternative games in order to grow. I’m all for winning little trophies where the YG can say they played a part.

  5. Stephanie says:

    Yes we should go for it this season. We shouldn’t have the pompous attitude that its beneath us or the mentality that its a “mickey mouse trophy ” like many fans have

    Its a trophy we’ve never won and would be nice to end the season with a trophy

    We have enough quality to do this
    Our lineups should be created according to the strength of out opponents

    Its also good opportunity to give playing time to Martinelli, Nketiah , etc. And for the toughest teams we use our strongest men

    We aren’t playing European football so lets do it this season

    COYG

    1. SueP says:

      I couldn’t agree more

  6. PJ-SA says:

    Every comp should be a massive priority with us out of European football.

    With us flying up the table I see no reason why top 4 and a cup isn’t possible.

    Players and manager have both shown what they are capable of. I’d understand sacrificing a cup for top 4 though if really needed but for me there is no excuse to reach at least one of those goals now

  7. Adajim says:

    This Mickey Mouse trophy is one of city main forte in the last 8years.
    Winning it means a lot to MA and am sure he wouldn’t joke with it.
    When was the last time we last won it?
    I’ll be rooting for us, winning it means MalA having another trophy, to those that rate him 18th in the league at the start of the season it should send a strong message to them

  8. Shortboygooner says:

    We have a huge squad and no European football. Yes we should go for it. I think we have adequate cover for tired legs. This can give us a chance to get into Europe.

  9. Declan says:

    OT…. spurs have sacked Nuno !
    Levi really is a plank.

    1. SueP says:

      Thankfully

    2. Sue says:

      Conte incoming??

      1. Declan says:

        Yes Sue, apparently flying in today to finalise talks that have been going on for a while.

      2. Admin Pat says:

        Are there any top managers that haven’t turned them down already?

        Including Conte?

  10. SueP says:

    Nuno already sacked!

    1. Declan says:

      No wonder their fans were chanting for Levi to leave the club, his record in appointing and then firing managers is laughable.

      1. SueP says:

        It is Declan. It helps our cause to have Spurs in disarray too. I’m suppressing a smile 😁

        1. jon fox says:

          Sue P , Why on Earth suppress a smile! Be like me and laugh out loud and long! Enjoy life and Spuds disarray!

  11. jon fox says:

    What a pleasure to read such a well thought out article that actually SAYS SOMETHING WORTHWHILE( which so many JA articles do not these days!).
    Good also to see a writer use our rich English language so correctly, including fine punctuation and construction of phrases/ sentences way above the norm on here.
    More articles please Mohamed!

    1. Mohamed Rafi says:

      I’m 18 and new to blogging and I simply couldn’t have got a more encouraging feedback mate. More is to come for sure!

  12. Jakes Mradu says:

    Winning the cup is very important….let start creating a winning mentality in this team……they young..let them start winning cups from a young age…..this cup is very important…..how many games left to get to the finals……Arsenal can do it….we can win this cup and get into top 5 in EPL……….!

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