By Ollie Irish, Pies Ed.
For all its Mickey Mouse reputation, the Carling Cup (aka League Cup, for old-school football fans) has enjoyed one of the finest weeks in its history – its stock has never been so high. Fans, managers, the media, everyone (bar Arsenal fans) seems to be taking it semi-seriously. And all it took was one eye-popping result, namely Spurs’ 5-1 defeat of Arsenal.
Amongst Tottenham fans (that includes me, although I confess that I’m more of an armchair fan), there was a collective feeling before the match that echoed the famous words of Howard Beale, the beleaguered TV anchorman in the movie Network: ‘I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take this anymore!’
Yes, we had had more than enough of being humbled by the Arsenal. More importantly, I think the players had had enough, players like Ledley King and Robbie Keane who had experienced defeat in the north London derby one time too many. A supporter might complain about nine long years of hurt, but he or she can’t do much about it – we have to trust in our players. Keane, King and co. came through – they wanted it more than Arsenal’s players. As a fan, that’s all I ask.
I was very confident that Tottenham would win â€“ in the last two years, Juande Ramos has never lost a cup game â€“ but I did not expect that the margin of victory would recall England’s 2001 demolition of Germany in Munich.
Was it arrogant of Arsene Wenger to persist with his policy of playing a less-experienced team in this competition? I don’t think so – it’s common sense to look after your best resources, and that means keeping Fabregas, Adebayor and other key players fit for the Premier League, and the Champions League. I think Wenger would like to apply the same policy to the FA Cup, but he has too much respect for English football.
Arsenal will bounce back. They’re too good not to.
Like most neutrals, I wanted Everton to beat Chelsea last night, to set up the first ‘non-big four’ cup final since, ooh, the dawn of time. Spurs vs Chelsea is a less appealing prospect than Spurs vs Everton, and not just because Tottenham have a lousy record against Chelsea in recent years.
But how can Everton compete against a team that can go out in January and spend Â£15m on an ’emergency striker’ of Nicolas Anelka’s quality? Chelsea have at least two internationals in every position. Most Premier League clubs would be happy to have one.