Embattled Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger took a dig at the Premier League’s scheduling of cup finals after overseeing a 2-0 win over AC Milan at the San Siro on Thursday night, claiming that hosting the Carabao Cup (League Cup) Final in the middle of the season is ‘strange’ and a feature that exists only in England.
The Gunners snapped a four-game losing streak in style as they beat the Rossoneri away, just days after getting stunned by Brighton & Hove Albion in a Premier League fixture.
“In England, we have a strange system where we have a League Cup final in the middle of the season. We played a cup final in the middle of the season on the Sunday, and then played against the same opponent on Thursday,” Wenger responded when asked at the post-match press conference in Milan why the Gunners struggled against the Premier League newcomers but managed to stun the European giants in their own backyard.
Runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City thumped Wenger’s side 3-0 in an incredibly one-sided final at Wembley and when the two sides met a few days later at the Emirates Stadium, for a league tie, the Sky Blues won by an identical scoreline to deepen the gloom for the Gunners faithful.
“It’s like a boxing match where you’re half knocked down and you have to face another opponent before you get up again. It’s difficult to recover from a defeat in a cup final when you put so much effort in. You’re always in danger.”
Must read: Crisis-hit Arsenal stun AC Milan at San Siro
Thursday’s result, however, could be the turning point for the North Londoners as the UEFA Europa League remains their only chance of winning any silverware this season.
“That’s what happened to us because we had no time to recover, no breather. We had our backs to the wall tonight and we had to respond. That’s what we have shown. We needed to find the mental resources and not just accept it,” the French tactician added.
As a bonus, winning the continental competition assures the winner a spot in next year’s UEFA Champions League and should the Gunners end their trophy drought on the continent, their long-suffering fans would indeed have something to cheer for.