Arsene Wenger gambles by resting key players for final Champions League game

Wenger concentrates on Premier League with European progress assured

Arsene Wenger has opted to leave a number of first team regulars at home for the trip to Olympiakos whom Arsenal play on Tuesday in their final Champions League group game.

Arsenal have already qualified for the last-16 of the competition, although first place - and in theory an easier draw for the knock out phase - has not yet been determined. To finish top the Gunners must better the result of Schalke 04.

Among those left at home are England duo Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere, along with Lukas Podolski, Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Per Mertesacker.

It represents something of a risk with Arsenal having dropped out at the last-16 stage in the previous two seasons. Last season they were beaten by AC Milan 4-3 on aggregate, and by the same scoreline by Barcelona the year before.

Arsenal have been stuttering domestically, with Wenger's side slumping to a 2-0 home defeat against Swansea at the weekend after being largely outplayed. The Gunners currently lie 10th, the worst start to a Premier League season since Wenger became manager in 1996.

Speaking after the Swansea game, Wenger blamed fatigue brought on by this season's Champions League games as a factor.

"We lost a game that we of course didn't want to lose, that is for sure," he said. "I can't deny that the quality was not there. It's difficult to come into deep analysis on the basis of the game. At home we have struggled with confidence and belief. But today was a more physical factor than psychological."

Arsenal's next Premier League game is at home against this season's surprise package, West Brom.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
Srebrenica 20 years after the genocide: Why the survivors need closure

Bosnia's genocide, 20 years on

No-one is admitting where the bodies are buried - literally and metaphorically
How Comic-Con can make or break a movie: From Batman vs Superman to Star Wars: Episode VII

Power of the geek Gods

Each year at Comic-Con in San Diego, Hollywood bosses nervously present blockbusters to the hallowed crowd. It can make or break a movie
What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?

Perfect match

What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Wimbledon 2015: Team Murray firing on all cylinders for SW19 title assault

Team Murray firing on all cylinders for title assault

Coaches Amélie Mauresmo and Jonas Bjorkman aiming to make Scot Wimbledon champion again
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!
Ashes 2015: Angus Fraser's top 10 moments from previous series'

Angus Fraser's top 10 Ashes moments

He played in five series against Australia and covered more as a newspaper correspondent. From Waugh to Warne and Hick to Headley, here are his highlights
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high