Arshavin set to come in from cold with first start for nine months


Click to follow
The Independent Online

Arsène Wenger is set to give Andrei Arshavin his first Arsenal start since January in tonight's Capital One Cup third round game against Coventry City. Wenger last night defended the professionalism of the Russian forward, who has returned to the club and is trying to win back the support of the fans.

"I have personally a great respect for Andrei Arshavin," Wenger insisted yesterday. "Sometimes some wrong ideas circulated about him – that he doesn't care – but it's completely the opposite. He's a 200 per cent professional who works every day very hard in training."

Arshavin recently went back to Zenit St Petersburg on loan but did not make a permanent move. Wenger said: "At the moment he's a victim of the high level of competition that exists for places. I think he has a huge respect from everybody in the dressing room, and especially from the staff.

"We will give him, of course, some competition on Wednesday night. I feel he's unhappy he doesn't play because deeply he loves football and he practises every day with 100 per cent commitment."

Some players who have been in and out of the Arsenal team so far this season, such as Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott, are likely to start along with young squad members such as Ignasi Miquel, Nico Yennaris and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

"We want to put out a talented side that has a good chance to win the game," Wenger said. "We will give a chance to some players who have not played as many games recently. The players that did not play on Sunday will get a chance and it's a good opportunity to show they can do well."

Emmanuel Frimpong, returning from a knee ligament injury, will be on the bench, strengthening Arsenal's midfield options. "If possible, we will put him on," revealed the manager.