Arsenal face the Tractor Boys, Ipswich Town in the League Cup Semi-Final. The first leg to be played at Portman Road over Jan 11th or 12th with the deciding leg at the Emirates 2 weeks later. On paper the kindest draw with Birmingham and West Ham meeting in the other semi-final to earn the chance to make the final at Wembley on February 27th.
Nothing in football should be taken for granted and though now a Championship side the team from Suffolk beat us 2-1 at Highbury the last time we played them in the League Cup back in November 2000. A little over 20 years before that they famously beat us in the 1978 FA Cup final with a side managed by the late Sir Bobby Robson.
Despite the popular media idea that we are taking the Carling Cup more seriously this year it remains 5th priority behind the premier league, champions league, champions league qualification and the FA cup. Even so our record in the competition is not that shabby when you consider that we have made the semi-final stage in the league cup in 4 of the last 7 seasons. But our squad is stronger now with 4 of the young players, still in their teens at the time (apart from then 20 year old Diaby), who started in the 2007 CC final Walcott, Cesc, Diaby and Denilson still with us as more mature and experienced players. The others to feature in that game still part of the squad are ‘keeper Almunia and Eboue who came on as a substitute. Quite simply we have no choice now but to appear to take the competition more seriously in terms of team selection as the squad by and large offers more mature players.
Whatever team we put out Ipswich will need to be treated with respect but competing over two legs should ensure that any tendency towards complacency is limited.
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