When Arsenal set off on this season`s Capital One Cup run with a penalty shoot-out victory at West Brom they were already putting behind them the atrocious start they endured to the Premier League, a home battering from Aston Villa. Surprising then that the knives that were out for the affable Arsene Wenger, post Villa, were still being brandished with doom and gloom predictions it was time for the longest serving manager in Britain to move on.
Even though the stats for a record of consecutive away wins were lit high in headlines it was still the `eight years without a trophy`, oops, sorry,` nine`, standard that was being brandished in the media. Despite real optimism that the missing trophy could end up being the Premier League variety not the one with three handles.
The powers that be at the Emirates, once the Gunners were in and around top spot in the Premier League on the back of that impressive away run, quickly moved towards Le Professeur with a view to extending his already record tenure at the helm. With typical dignity Arsene put the campaign first and decided discussions would commence later in the season.
Mr Wenger has endured nearly a decade of criticism and pessimism about the consistent lack of a need to order in a fresh supply of silver polish. It is unthinkable that should the team fail to beat Chelsea in the tie of Round 4 that crowds will gather, Bastille-like, around the Emirates, demanding his head on a stick. Even if they do succumb to Mr Mourinho it will be the manner of defeat which holds greater sway than defeat itself.
It will be very interesting to see how many of the young players at the Emirates will take to the field against Chelsea. If it`s a young side Wenger will be accused of not taking seriously the Gunners` first chance of a trophy this season. If a few more senior pros are fielded perhaps the opposite will be the case.
However, make no mistake, Capital One Cup success in the spring can, quite literally, be a springboard to greater success come May – and Arsene knows that.