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May 4, 2011

Wilshere: Forget Carling Cup debacle

Jack Wilshere says Arsenal must move on from their "devastating" Carling Cup final defeat to Birmingham if they are to finally break their silverware drought next season.

• Van Persie: We're ready for next step
• Wenger: United still favourites
• Szczesny: Wenger best in world

Arsene Wenger's side were odds on favourites to land their first trophy for five years against the Blues at Wembley back in February, but lost thanks to a late mix-up between defender Laurent Koscielny and goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.

The Gunners' injury-time defeat sparked a collapse in their season as they were knocked out of the Champions League by Barcelona and the FA Cup by Manchester United, who then pulled away from them at the top of the Premier League.

England midfielder Wilshere, who won the Young Player of the Year award for his individual performances, insists all those disappointing thoughts must be banished if Arsenal are to come good in 2011-12.

"We have to win something and we won't win if we keep thinking about those two weeks,'' Wilshere told FourFourTwo magazine. "It [the Carling Cup final defeat] was devastating, even now the boys still say 'we could have got a trophy there'.

"There was always the psychological feeling if we won that, it would give us the confidence to win more.''

Arsenal are hopeful captain Cesc Fabregas (thigh) and midfielder Samir Nasri (hamstring) can shake off injury ahead of Sunday's trip to FA Cup finalists Stoke, where they will look to stay one step ahead of Manchester City in the bid to secure automatic Champions League qualification.

Centre-half Johan Djourou went off against United, who host Chelsea in what now looks set to be a title decider, with a leg problem and will also be assessed. The Swiss defender has produced some solid performances in a campaign which has seen Arsenal's backline depleted by the loss of Thomas Vermaelen to a long-term Achilles problem.

The 24-year-old is himself no stranger to the treatment room after recovering from a serious knee injury and then dislocating his shoulder in the FA Cup defeat at Old Trafford in March.

Wenger was criticised for not bring in more experienced defensive cover during January, with the jury still out on Sebastien Squillaci. Djourou, however, insists simply plunging into the transfer market is not the answer.

He told Arsenal TV Online: "Of course you can add players if you wish, but the most important thing is making sure the players you have are progressing well together.

"I always look at 'the Invincibles'. People forget sometimes, they say we have not won anything and we need to buy big players, but when the boss went to get Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira and Freddie Ljungberg people were saying 'who are they?'.

"People were asking questions and look what happened. The criticism is not always fair and that is a great example to show it because those guys have become legends. Football is not always about buying the biggest players [to] bring you glory.''

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