Wenger taking League Cup seriously


LONDON, January 11- Arsene Wenger knows the League Cup represents his best chance of ending Arsenal's six-year wait for a trophy.And ahead of the first leg of the semi-final against Ipswich, who are struggling in the Championship, Wenger is adamant he will treat the competition more seriously than he has ever done when the Gunners travel to Portman Road on Wednesday.

Arsenal are 180 minutes from a Wembley final and are up against a team that lost by seven goals to Chelsea in the FA Cup on Sunday.

Ipswich will also be under the management of caretaker Ian McParland, who oversaw the Chelsea defeat, despite ex-Derby and Wigan boss Paul Jewell being named Monday as the successor to Roy Keane, who was sacked last week.

But Gunners manager Wenger is still oncerned over his lack of personnel.

He lost Sebastien Squillaci during Saturday’s 1-1 FA Cup draw with Leeds, leaving the French boss with just two centre-backs at his disposal.

Depending on the severity of Squillaci’s muscle strain, Wenger is considering an emergency signing — possibly before the Ipswich game.

"If we only have two centre-backs then that cannot work with the number of centre-backs we have," Wenger said. "If Squillaci has a problem then we must quickly go out for a player."

Arsenal have welcomed back Thierry Henry, albeit only so their former striker can keep fit in the Major League Soccer off-season.

But Henry will also join in coaching sessions and may help Theo Walcott — who idolised the striker and now wears the No14 shirt made famous by Henry.

Walcott has come in for criticism for admitting he dived to win the penalty against Leeds which earned Arsenal a replay at Elland Road next week.

Gunners strikers Andrey Arshavin and Nicklas Bendtner average just under a goal every four games.

They missed a host of chances against Leeds which led to boos and jeers from their own supporters, but Wenger insisted he would stick by them.

"The fans are demanding," Wenger said "We were not consistent technically and so they picked on our inconsistencies.

"It is not through a lack of desire with Arshavin. He wants to do well.

"He took one touch too many with his first chance and the keeper did well to save another shot he had. Every player during a season has strong and weaker periods and he has had a weaker period, then two or three weeks on the bench.

"I have no worries that Arshavin will come back into the team, but their confidence does suffer a little bit from that."

McParland, meanwhile, did not get his wish that Jewell would arrive in time to take charge of the game at Portman Road.

After the loss to Chelsea he said: "I think he’s got a really tough job. I hope he’s in by Wednesday."

But Jewell said: "Tony (Loughlan) and Ian will be in charge on Wednesday night and I will take charge on Thursday.

"I’ve not even met the players or the staff yet, it’s been a real whirlwind and I don’t want to cause a distraction.

"I have DVDs to watch this (Monday) afternoon and I will be in the stands on Wednesday night."