How important is winning the Carabao Cup final to Arsenal and Arsène Wenger?
It's the Carabao Cup final on Sunday as Arsenal face off against Premier League leaders Manchester City at Wembley. With Arsenal having a poor season, just how important is winning the final for Arsenal?
The current situation at Arsenal
The Gunners currently sit sixth in the Premier League, eight points adrift of fourth-placed Chelsea, and seven points behind rivals Spurs. It looks like it will be another disappointing campaign in the league for Arsenal but the League Cup may be able to provide some saving grace for the North London side.
Arsène Wenger's side succumbed to an embarrassing 2-1 defeat on Thursday against Swedish minnows Ostersunds FK. Pressure is building even more on Wenger, and if they lose the final against City it could signal the end for Arsène. Arsenal is a club that needs to be winning silverware regularly, and if they lose on Sunday it's likely that it will be a trophyless season for Arsenal with the Europa League looking like a hurdle too high.
What if they lose?
Last season many fans saw Arsenal winning the FA Cup as a good place for Wenger to leave but instead, he signed a two-year deal with the club. If Arsenal lose on Sunday, will Wenger decide to walk away at the end of the season?
If Arsenal win on Sunday, it will be Wenger's first League Cup triumph. Arsenal came close in 2011 but suffered a shock 2-1 defeat to Birmingham City who were eventually relegated that season.
If Arsenal lose, it will most probably result in a trophy-less season for The Gunners. In recent seasons, when they haven't done well in the league, at least they have managed to make up by winning some silverware. Lose on Sunday, and it's going to add even more misery on to an already bleak season.
Just how big is a win for The Gunners?
A win would be huge for Arsenal. For one it would be their first League Cup since 1993 where they beat Sheffield Wednesday 2-1. However, it could be even bigger for their season. Arsenal are looking so vulnerable right now with many teams relishing the chance to play them.
If Arsenal win, it will not only be a reminder of what they can do, it will send out a message to the League that Arsenal are still a strong force and should be feared.
Also, a win would bring belief to the Arsenal camp. Man City have looked unplayable for the majority of the season, and a win for Arsenal would give the players belief that they can beat anyone on their day. It could be the win that gives Arsenal the momentum to finish the season strongly.
If they do beat Manchester City, it could be the catalyst to spur Arsenal on to try and get a top-four spot. Moreover, a win will make it likely that Wenger will stay, but whether that's good or bad for Arsenal is anyone's guess.
It might instil a bit of belief in the fans as well. The Arsenal faithful haven't had a lot to celebrate this season, but a League Cup would be a huge step in changing the mood around the club.
How is Wenger feeling before the big clash?
In a recent interview, Wenger admitted that there is a lot of pressure on him and his side. The Frenchman said,
The pressure is immense. You must have enough belief to think you can do it.
We are underdogs but we have to believe in ourselves. We've done it before, why not do it again?
There's no doubting it, the final is a lot more important to Arsenal then it is to CIty. With Man City basically having the league wrapped up already, the League Cup would be an added bonus. However, for Arsenal, it could be the matter of Arsène Wenger staying or leaving at the end of the season.
While Man City look to be firm favourites in the final, it could be Arsenal's time to remind the league and the country what they are capable of.