By Declan Taylor

Arsène Wenger believes that the Carling Cup serves two crucial purposes in the honing of young Arsenal talent.

The Club’s youth philosophy has added new life to a competition that has recently fallen out of favour with England’s biggest clubs. A 6-0 hammering of Sheffield United and a consummate 3-0 victory over Wigan Athletic illuminated previous rounds as well as propelling the Arsenal youngsters into the national spotlight.

Wenger believes that as well as providing his players with vital senior experience, the Carling Cup is the first opportunity for him to assess a player’s first-team credentials.

“The Carling Cup is the first real competition test,” said the manager ahead of Tuesday’s encounter with Burnley. “You may know that the player is good in the youth teams and training but then it is about how he performs on the big stage, with that pressure and on television. When every fight for the ball is hard, that is when you see if yes he can make it or no, he doesn’t have a big chance.

“The players who play in the Carling Cup know that they can play at any minute in the Premier League. For me I don’t make a big difference I just use this competition to give those players that I believe have the potential to play in the Premier League but need experience.”

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2 Dec 2008