After a difficult week, there was some much-needed good news for Arsène Wenger and his squad in the lead-up to Wednesday night’s north London derby at White Hart Lane.
The rescinding of Gabriel’s three-match ban for his dismissal at Chelsea was a welcome concession from the Football Association after a trying seven days that had seen two defeats and three red cards.
It may not do anything to change the result at Stamford Bridge, but it does bring some positivity back ahead of a huge Capital One Cup third-round clash at the home of Arsenal’s local rivals. The competition may not be priority No 1, but when it comes to Tottenham, every game has a certain edge.
And with that in mind, Wenger has stressed the importance of discipline in what is bound to be another full-blooded, high-octane affair.
“I believe we were unfortunate in Zagreb to [have a man] sent off, and at Chelsea as well,” he told Arsenal Player. “But you want your players to behave in a perfect way and not to show any response at all.
“You have to be committed because that’s what our fans expect from us, to be up for the battle and play good football. At the end of the day that is the most important thing.
“[Derby games in England are] a bit more pacy and teams go for it a bit more, which makes it more interesting. Maybe in other countries it’s a bit more tactical, observational and about not making a mistake. It’s more about going out to win it, a more positive attitude in England, which makes the game more interesting.
“I love it, I love every competitive game and I think I have shown that since I have been here. I love a positive result but to get there you must prepare, you must focus and you must commit by playing good football.”
Mauricio played in huge derbies in his career – Newell’s Old Boys against Rosario Central back in Argentina, Espanyol against Barcelona, PSG against Marseille and on the international scene, Argentina against Brazil.
“Yes, yes it’s true,” smiled Mauricio when asked if derby days saw him wishing he was still out there. “For me, it was always important to play against your rivals in the derby matches. I always enjoyed playing this type of game. It’s always a special feeling.
“Derbies are special. It’s a different game. Our supporters have that expectation to win. It’s impossible to guess what will happen but one thing is for sure, we need to play at 100 per cent.
“We are ready and our motivation is big to play this game on Wednesday.”
There have been 12 meetings between the north London rivals in the League Cup, including four semi-finals.
The most recent League Cup meeting was in the third round in 2010/11 at White Hart Lane. Arsenal won the game 4-1 after extra time.
Spurs have been eliminated by Premier League opposition in the previous nine years (excluding 2008 when they won the competition).
Spurs have won their previous four home League Cup games.
Last season’s third-round defeat to Southampton was Arsenal’s earliest League Cup exit since November 2002, when they lost 3-2 to Sunderland at the same stage.
The Gunners haven’t been eliminated in an away third-round tie since 1991/92, when Coventry knocked them out at Highfield Road. They have progressed in their 11 away third-round ties since.
The team reached the final of the competition last season before losing out to Chelsea at Wembley.
Mauricio made sure the players watched Chelsea lift the trophy – and is sure the experience can drive them to reach Wembley again.
“It’s important when the opponent take a trophy, you need to feel what it’s like to lose to avoid it happening again next time,” he added. “We learned from that defeat.”