Arsenal kids grow up fast, warns Hughes
- Wed 02 Dec 2009, 9:16AM
- Posted byPeter Ferguson
Mark Hughes has warned his Carling Cup warriors to ignore the popular image of Arsene Wenger's cup-tie kids when they face Arsenal tonight for a place in the semi-finals.
City's boss regards Wenger as a respected adversary after their rivalry developed during his years in charge of Blackburn, but he refuses to share the rose-tinted view of his cup side.
Wenger's gifted youngsters include such key captures as Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsay, and Hughes said: "They do spend significant amounts of money on younger talent.
"Some clubs won't go into the market and spend maybe £5m on an 18-year-old but Arsenal have done that on several occasions. It's the model they follow and it's reaped benefits for them.
"At times the experience of the so-called youngsters is greater than you'd think. If you look at games played they're not lacking in experience. They know what it's about and how Arsenal play.
"There will be experienced players to supplement the younger element. I would suggest that the team we go up against will have a good smattering of certainly Premier League experience.
Some of them will have Champions League experience, so they are not quite as 'young' as people think. But it's still a big challenge that we'll have to overcome
Hughes sends out his side after seven League draws insisting that they must reach the club's first semi-final since 1981, but he shrugs off as premature the debate over City's season.
With City seventh in the table, he said: "There's a little bit of hysteria, and not for the first time. It's not something I lose sleep over. We are still very much where we thought we would be at this stage.
"We've only been beaten once but there's a feeling that we should have more points on the board. We can't dwell on that, we have to look forward.
"We're being judged on the money we've spent. But as a group we will get stronger as the season progresses. The quality and the strength in depth will allow us to do that.
"We're at home in front of our fans - it's a great opportunity for us and we have to take it. We've worked hard to get into this position, now it's important we get into the semi-final."