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Page last updated at 23:55 GMT, Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Carling Cup: Arsene Wenger praises 'maturing' Arsenal

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Gunners duo heap praise on Ipswich

Coverage: Watch highlights on BBC Sport website later tonight and on The League Cup Show, BBC Two 2320-0000

Arsene Wenger feels Arsenal's growing maturity helped them overturn a first-leg loss to reach the Carling Cup final with a 3-1 aggregate win over Ipswich.

Nicklas Bendtner and Laurent Koscielny scored three minutes apart in the second half, before Cesc Fabregas sealed a 3-0 second-leg victory.

"One or two years ago we would have been nervous as the match wore on," Gunners boss Wenger told BBC Sport.

"But we kept our game going. We have matured on that front."

Arsenal, who will face either West Ham or Birmingham in the final on 27 February, have not won a trophy since they won the FA Cup in 2005.

Maturing Arsenal a pleasure to watch - Wenger

Wenger has been criticised for having a lack of experience in the squad with not one of Tuesday's 18-man squad over 30 and only five players aged over 25.

Wenger revealed that the dearth of silverware had "preyed" on his mind and admitted that winning the Carling Cup could be the catalyst to greater success.

"I get the same question every time, so I say 'we try to win everything we can', but on the other hand it can more get the pressure off the team to deliver in the other competitions," added the Frenchman.

606: DEBATE

"It is not the only target we have of the season, we have even bigger targets, but it can help us to achieve the other targets.

"What I am convinced is we will go with the same heart for everything.

"We have a chance to deliver, but it will be down to delivering the needed performance on the day. That is part of mental strength as well."

Meanwhile, Wenger paid tribute to Championship strugglers Ipswich for their performances over the two legs.

"We played Leeds [in the FA Cup] and Ipswich and in fairness the Championship has improved a lot in the last five, six years," he continued.

If we could have kept it at 2-0, then maybe in the last 15 minutes, then who knows?

Ipswich boss Paul Jewell

"Physically they do not weaken at all, they keep going and when we analyse the physical performance of Ipswich they are at the level of the Premier League, no problem."

Striker Bendtner agreed with his manager's sentiments.

"Ipswich deserve all the credit. They played really well and made it very difficult for us but we always knew we'd have the chances and it was just a case of finishing them off," said the Denmark international.

"We do everything we can in every match to win a trophy and now we're in one final and we'll do everything we can to try to win it."

No shame in defeat by 'world class' Arsenal - Jewell

Town boss Paul Jewell was disappointed with the goals conceded but praised his side's effort on the night.

"We knew they would have all the ball and we would soak it up and make it difficult, but we have held them and also had that bit of luck," he said.

"For an hour we looked all right, however the manner of the goals were disappointing.

"But I cannot fault the players because their effort was outstanding.

"If we could have kept it at 2-0, then maybe in the last 15 minutes, then who knows? But it was not meant to be.

"We always knew we were going to be under the cosh here, but you have got to give the players credit because they were not disgraced over two games."



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see also
Wenger far from Saints star deal
26 Jan 11 |  Arsenal
Arsenal 3-0 Ipswich (3-1 agg)
25 Jan 11 |  League Cup
Tuesday football as it happened
25 Jan 11 |  Football
Tuesday's football photos
25 Jan 11 |  Football


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