Wenger wants long-term consistency

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Arsene Wenger accepts lifting the Carling Cup would finally end doubts over the latest Arsenal generation being able to deliver silverware to Emirates Stadium - but feels sustained success at the top of the Barclays Premier League is already a bigger achievement.

Much has been made of the Gunners' trophy drought, which stretches back to the 2005 FA Cup and coincided with their move from Highbury. Wenger, though, still believes the club's achievements in delivering consistent top-level European football at their new 60,000-seater home in Ashburton Grove cannot be undervalued.

"It is always very difficult to say whether it is harder to finish always in the top four, or to win the Carling Cup," the Arsenal manager said.

"The most difficult is consistency at the top, and the proof of that is that only two clubs have been able to finish in the top four for each of the last 12 years, us and Manchester United.

"It is true that winning the Carling Cup will mean we don't have to answer that question any more about whether we can win trophies. It will be important for the confidence of the team for the rest of the season."

Wenger added: "We have a young squad and this will do much for their confidence. Winning the Carling Cup will be like beating Chelsea, like beating Barcelona - another step forward."

Arsenal will be without both captain Cesc Fabregas, who has a hamstring problem, and England forward Theo Walcott, sidelined by an ankle sprain, after what proved to be a costly midweek Premier League win over Stoke.

Wenger admitted given the challenges ahead, he had to be cautious with Fabregas.

"Cesc is disappointed, but his disappointment is diminished by the fact that we have other main targets after this game, like the championship, the Champions League and the FA Cup," Wenger said.

"If he was playing, he could damage his participation in all the other targets after that. Of course, he accepts it with disappointment, but our job isn't just about good things. It's also about disappointments."

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Stoke City
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UEFA Champions League
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FA Cup
Theo Walcott

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