“You just don’t know, it is very hard to predict. What is for certain is you that you want to win these sort of games. It is not sure that the result will affect the Premier League but you know people will look at you, how you behave and whether you can win the big games like this. It has a certain psychological influence on the team.
“We haven’t won the title for a few years and people question that now. The league will reflect the quality of the performances of the team throughout the season and, as well, how well you do in the big games. So this is a good opportunity for us to show we are ready.”
For Arsène Wenger, the game with Chelsea at Emirates Stadium on Tuesday is more than a Capital One Cup tie. It is an opportunity.
Victory would solidify Arsenal’s credentials as title contenders and stiffen their resolve ahead of a key month.
"The league will reflect the quality of the performances of the team throughout the season and, as well, how well you do in the big games. So this is a good opportunity for us to show we are ready"
In the first quarter of the campaign, Wenger’s men have exceeded expectations. But, much to the manager’s quiet satisfaction, some of the trailing teams are still more fancied for honours.
That may change in a November consisting of Liverpool (h), Dortmund (a), Manchester United (a), Southampton (h), Marseille (h) and Cardiff (a).
However, the last game in October should not be overlooked or for that matter, the competition in which it is played.
“The priority is to win the next game,” said Wenger of his ambitions in the Capital One Cup. “You do not choose deliberately. We will absolutely go for this game and therefore it is our priority today.”
The manager always says that, he can’t say anything else really. But, as much he’d like to rest some key players, he is aware that nothing succeeds like success. OK, maybe a less confident side would not have gone for the victory over Dortmund last week and, in doing so, get caught on the break. But it was indicative that Arsenal were emboldened enough to go for it against one of the best sides in Europe.
Recent hard-fought victories over Crystal Palace and Norwich were, quite clearly, built on a foundation stone of belief. Wenger will want to preserve that mindset whatever happens at the Emirates on Tuesday.
Against West Brom in the last round, Wenger started Nicklas Bendtner for the first time since March 2011. The reaction from the player and the fans was positive. A lead role at the Emirates would be a complete return for a player who seemed sure to be leaving the Club at the end of August.
"You want to be respected and liked by your own fans, and I think he is. But he will get even more credit if he has great fight in this game and does well"
“You want to be respected and liked by your own fans, and I think he is,” said Wenger. “But he will get even more credit if he has great fight in this game and does well.
“He has been away for a lot time and he was half - when I say ‘half’ I really mean 80 per cent - out of the club. But in the end he decided to stay and I stopped him from going. I must say, he has responded in a positive way and that is what we want from him. I believe he is physically ready, a very good player and if his concentration is 100 per cent to commit himself to the cause, he will be a great asset for us.”
Chelsea are second in the Premier League table and have won their last five games - including a late and dramatic victory over Manchester City on Sunday. Like Wenger, Jose Mourinho fielded a ‘half-and-half’ side in the last round. The Blues' November is not quite so busy or tricky, but the proximity of the weekend game will surely influence team selection.
In many ways, this is a game where both managers must balance short-term and long-term concerns.
A place in the quarter-finals is significant, but the real victory on Tuesday would be the wider benefits a win would bring.
* This tie will be decided on the night - there are no longer any replays in this competition. If the scores are level after 90 minutes the teams will play 30 minutes of extra-time. If the scores are still level a penalty shoot-out will decide the winner.
Arsenal: Walcott (abdominal), Zelalem (knee), Sanogo (back), Podolski (hamstring), Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee), Diaby (knee), Eisfield (back)
Chelsea: Van Ginkel (knee)
Copyright 2023 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.