Arsenal vs Southampton: Gunners manager Arsene Wenger defiant over team selection despite Saints defeat

Frenchman claims he had 'no choice' but to make changes for Capital One Cup clash

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The Independent Online

Arsene Wenger admitted that he had “no choice” but to make 10 changes after seeing his Arsenal side knocked out of the Capital One Cup by Southampton.

Wenger fielded three teenagers in defence, as well as Abou Diaby, Francis Coquelin, David Ospina and Joel Campbell, and Southampton were worthy 2-1 winners at the Emirates. But Tottenham come here on Saturday evening and Wenger admitted he had no alternative but to rest his first-choice defence.

“We are a bit short, yes, because of the injuries we have,” Wenger explained afterwards. “You sit there and think: [Kieran] Gibbs had a little hamstring problem and we could not play him, Mertesacker is a bit on the edge, and then we have no choice.”

After Saturday's game, Arsenal host Galatasaray in the Champions League before travelling to Stamford Bridge, and Wenger is preparing for the forthcoming games.

“Before the last game at Villa, Mertesacker had a glute problem,” Wenger said. “He declared himself fit, but we are so short that it's very difficult because we have so many games with Tottenham, Galatasaray and then we go to Chelsea.”

Despite conceding twice to “un-needed errors”, Wenger absolved any of his young defenders of blame. “I think if we lost the game tonight, it's not because of [Isaac] Hayden, not because of [Calum] Chambers and not because of [Francis] Coquelin. We gave a lot, I cannot fault the spirit, the attitude. The first reason of our defeat is the quality of our opponent and the performance of our opponent.”

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