Wenger: Arsenal are ready to deliver


Arsenal win 3-1 on aggregate

ARSENAL manager Arsene Wenger has told his players that an end to their six-year trophy drought is theirs for the taking after they swept Ipswich aside to reach the Carling Cup final.

A superb strike from Nicklas Bendtner, a Laurent Koscielny header and a breakaway attack finished by Cesc Fabregas – all within 18 second-half minutes – helped the Gunners overturn a first-leg deficit.

It sets up their first Wembley final, where they will meet West Ham or Birmingham on 27 February, since completing the double by lifting the FA Cup in 1998, Wenger’s first full season in charge.

The night might have been even better for Arsenal’s silverware quest, had Blackpool held onto their two-goal lead over Manchester United and deprived the Premier League leaders of three precious points.

But Wenger said: “For us it is the perfect night. I’m convinced our season depends on our performances, our results and our consistency. We don’t have to focus on Man United or anybody else.

“We are a team that has taken off a while ago and is consistent now. It’s important for us to go from strength to strength. Are we capable? We have a chance. Man United wil be a very tough opponent, but we have a good chance if we can keep going from strength to strength, as I believe we can.”

Fabregas, part of the team who lost the 2007 final to Chelsea in Cardiff, put in a lung-bursting run to net his goal and Wenger added: “You could see in Cesc’s attitude that he is hungry for it. I still believe that Cesc is a born winner and wants to win every day on the training pitch. It has a lot of meaning for him.”

Arsenal started with urgency and fluency, but Ipswich doggedly frustrated them for the opening 45 minutes, only allowing Wenger’s men two clear sniffs of goal. Robin van Persie crashed a back-post header onto the crossbar, and then, just before the break, Fabregas poked wide from Jack Wilshere’s clever dinked through-ball.

Nerves, then, were growing as the second- half began, but two goals in three minutes soon settled the home fans. Bendtner opened the scoring and levelled the tie in style in the 61st, killing a long pass, cutting inside Mark Kennedy with a Cruyff turn and curling a low shot into the far corner.

Koscielny then headed the second from Arsenal’s next attack and completed the turnaround, beating Marton Fulop to a near-post corner.

And with 13 minutes left Fabregas got the goal his display deserved, latching onto a pass from Andrey Arshavin and slotting home left-footed.