Wenger to rest stars against Olympiakos

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Arsene Wenger openly admits he will not gamble with the fitness of any of his first-team regulars against Olympiakos in their final Champions League group game and intends to give the youngsters another chance to impress.

With safe passage into the knockout stages already secure, Wenger will take a youthful squad to Athens to give some of his walking wounded a chance to recuperate ahead of the Premier League trip to Liverpool on Sunday.

Forwards Theo Walcott and Eduardo both missed the win over Stoke on Saturday with minor injuries, while Czech winger Tomas Rosicky was substituted at half-time with a groin problem which could keep him out for a month. William Gallas, Emmanuel Eboué, Armand Traoré and Andrei Arshavin all suffered knocks during the 2-0 win, leaving Wenger with something of a selection problem for tomorrow's European tie.

The Gunners manager is ready to give those players who helped reach the Carling Cup quarter-finals another chance of big-game experience.

"In the competition as a whole this season, the boys did really well and I am extremely proud of them. I will give some of them an opportunity on Wednesday, for many reasons," Wenger said. "At the moment we have so many players injured that we cannot take any gambles; also you must give players a breather when you can.

"We played Manchester City last week and they had a full side out. For an hour we did not suffer at all. I will try to build a similar team in Greece. It will be a great game for them because Olympiakos will play for something, and it is another good opportunity to show that we can do better than we did at Man City."

Olympiakos, coached by Brazil legend Zico, are currently unbeaten at the top of the Greek domestic league and recently beat arch-rivals Panathinaikos. A draw would be enough to see Olympiakos – who lost 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium in September – also safely through to the last 16 ahead of Standard Liège.