Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has admitted to added pressure after more than half a decade without a major trophy and as a result has signalled a shift in his philosophy of using the Carling Cup to blood youngsters.
The Frenchman has confirmed that the strong team he selected for the previous round was not a one-off due to the importance of beating rivals Tottenham Hotspur, and his side will not be significantly weakened tonight against Newcastle United — who could include Northern Ireland youngster Shane Ferguson — when a place in the quarter-finals is at stake.
“First of all because we have a big squad, and as well I believe we have a squad good enough to go forward with trophies, that's why I think ‘okay let's go as far as we can',” Wenger said.
“I said that we are going for every single trophy. Of course we will rotate some players but we will go with the big core of the first team.
“It will be similar to what we did at Tottenham. The only thing I can guarantee is that we will go with a team of first-team experience at 80 per cent.”
It is more than five years since a trophy for Wenger — only Cesc Fabregas remains from the 2005 starting line-up that defeated Manchester United in the FA Cup in Cardiff — and during that time youngsters have been played in early rounds of cup competitions.
FIFA yesterday announced Wenger as one of the nominees for World Coach of the Year, yet one criticism from his own supporters is that he dismisses a genuine chance of silverware by not fielding stronger teams away from Premier League action.
He added: “You can see what we have done is quite remarkable but we want more. I can understand that people want more and we want to give them more.
“We want to go as high as we can. People forget that we have been at the top every year but we want to add what people want from us and we want as well.”
Meanwhile, Northern Ireland starlet Ferguson, who has one international cap, is in line to figure as Newcastle boss Chris Hughton looks to keep his side fresh.
“It's a game we want to give the respect it deserves, and it's a competition we very much want to stay in,” he said.
“But I have a responsibility to look after the best interests of the squad and the club.”