Wenger wants League Cup to spark trophy chase
London: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes victory in the League Cup final next month would be the perfect springboard to even greater success this season.
The Gunners secured a place at Wembley against Birmingham or West Ham by defeating Ipswich 3-0 at the Emirates Stadium, overturning their one-goal deficit from the first leg against their Championship opponents.
It means Arsenal, who have gone six years without a trophy, are still competing on four fronts and looking forward to their first Wembley final since 1998.
They have reached the knockout stage of the Champions League, the fourth round of the FA Cup and maintained pace with Premier League leaders Manchester United.
“If we can win this, it will take the pressure off us to deliver in the other competitions,” Wenger said.
“We have opportunity to win one trophy, but we will go with the same heart in every competition. But we need to deliver on the day.”
“This team is hungry for success - you could see we kept going and we refused to show weakness. An average team might not have qualified.”
Ipswich held firm until just after the hour mark, when Nicklas Bendtner opened the scoring, then Laurent Koscielny added another before captain Cesc Fabregas added a third.
Earlier in the victory, Fabregas was accused of diving by Ipswich players when he went over in the penalty under the challenge of Gareth McAuley but Wenger played down that controversy.
“You could see from Cesc that he is hungry,” Wenger added. “He wants to win things and this has a lot of meaning for him.”
Fabregas looks determined to end Arsenal’s long trophy drought and he said: “We will try to do our best because our fans deserve a trophy again at the Emirates.”
Bendtner also emphasised his desperation to bring a trophy to the club. The Dane was delighted to have got on the scoresheet and hopes to feature again in the final after an inconsistent season.
“I was pleased to score because it had been a little while since I had last scored and it was a great goal,” he said.
“Ipswich deserve credit because they played really well and made it difficult for us. But I knew we would have the chances and it was just about finishing them.”
“We know we have not won any trophies for a long time, but we try to do everything we can to win a trophy.”
Ipswich manager Paul Jewell was proud of his side’s performance, despite their collapse in the second half.
“For an hour we’ve held them and rode our luck. We knew they would have all the ball. But we made it difficult for them,” Jewell said.
“Going forward was difficult because they kept coming at us and we were tired at the end. “
“The manner of the goals was disappointing, but I can’t fault the players’ effort. They put so much into the game. Once the goal goes in it’s a big lift for Arsenal. “
“We weren’t disgraced over two games. We’re just disappointed. When you get to an hour you start wondering, can we do it?”
Arsenal’s breakthrough came in the 61st minute when Jack Wilshere swept a ball to Bendtner, who cut inside Carlos Edwards and curled into the bottom corner.
Koscielny edged Arsenal ahead two minutes later when he headed home powerfully from an Andrey Arshavin corner.
Fabregas’s goal came when Arshavin played him through and the Spaniard finished neatly in the 77th minute.