Saturday 21st May 2005 – the last time Arsenal won a meaningful trophy.
This coming Sunday though, the Gunners have the opportunity to scratch that six year itch when they face Birmingham City in the League Cup final.
Now, before people render this cup meaningless, bear in mind that in the last six years it has been taken seriously, having been won by Manchester United (three times), Chelsea (twice) and Tottenham Hotspur.
But for manager Arsene Wenger, a victory could mean a lot more then adding to the club’s trophy cabinet.
If Cesc Fabregas (fitness permitting) hoists that trophy above his head at Wembley on Sunday afternoon, it will mark the first taste of success for a number of the current Arsenal generation.
The likes of Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere, Alex Song and Samir Nasri are yet to hold a winners medal during their time at the Emirates Stadium, while the likes of Fabregas and Robin van Persie have not tasted triumph since that FA Cup win against Manchester United.
There is a current school of thought that a trophy-winning mentality is the only thing lacking in Wenger’s current crop of players. They have the skill, flair and pace to trouble any team in world football (see last week’s defeat of Barcelona for proof.)
Breaking that duck and capturing that first trophy brings with it a prize-winning temperament. Not convinced? Take a look at the past.
History suggests that before a trophy-laden period, a club will land one of the so-called lesser prizes – perhaps acting as a springboard to success.
Take Arsenal under George Graham. The Gunners had gone eight years without a trophy before his side claimed the 1987 League Cup against Liverpool. What followed was a six year spell which included two league title, one FA Cup and another League cup.
Even Jose Mourinho guided Chelsea to the League Cup before ending the club’s 50 year wait for the league championship.
But possibly the best example would be Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United. Before the Scottish manager brought major success to Old Trafford, he steered them to a FA Cup and UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup before the Red Devils’ dominance began.
With that in mind, a win against the Blues on Sunday could become one of the biggest since Wenger took over the club in 1995. As mentioned earlier, the players have the ability, accompany this with a first trophy and the sky could very well be the limit.
For years Wenger’s squad have lived behind the youthful tag – one that claims they are too inexperienced and naïve to win the big prizes.
Now it’s time for his class to finally graduate, with honors.
Tags: arsenal, Arsene Wenger, Birmingham City, Carling Cup