Arsène Wenger insisted that he will play an "experienced" team at Reading in the Capital One Cup tonight, including Andrei Arshavin, as Arsenal come to terms with competing in three trophies.
After a difficult few days, in which Arsenal lost to Norwich City and Schalke before scrambling to a win over Queen's Park Rangers, Wenger said he will rest some players for this evening's trip to the Madejski Stadium.
"We fight as hard as we can to stay in all the competitions and if you have to make a choice you make it as late as possible. The Capital One Cup is in a period where you have to make a decision sometimes, as it is a time when we also have the League and the Champions League.
"Some players need a breather because they had two international games, and the Champions League and Premier League games. They will have played five games in two weeks. Some will be rested tomorrow." The manager added: "We will still have an experienced side out with players from the squad. We will go to Reading with a good team who will have a good chance to win the game."
Wenger will start Arshavin, the Russian international who has made three substitute appearances this month but started only one game – the 6-1 defeat of Coventry City in the third round of this competition – this season. "Andrei is a classy player," Wenger said. "He is a top professional with a great attitude. You could see when he came on [on Saturday], his brightness and his intelligence with the final ball is fantastic."
The Swindon Town manager, Paolo Di Canio, hopes for a third Premier League scalp of his tenure in the home game with Aston Villa tonight. Di Canio's Swindon beat Wigan in the FA Cup last season before knocking Stoke City out of this competition in August.
"All the attention must now go to Tuesday night and Aston Villa," Di Canio said yesterday. "We have won two games against Premier League teams and now we have a chance to take on another side. We must stop thinking about the league now and take an extra lift to try and make something special on Tuesday night."
Paul Lambert knows it will be a difficult evening. "It's another tough game we are facing," the embattled Villa manager said. "It's not going to be a foregone conclusion. I've been there a few times with Norwich."
Wigan's manager Roberto Martinez is relishing his side's first home cup tie in two years against Bradford City. "Every game is a big game now," he said. "Getting into the final eight is a fantastic prize for Bradford and for ourselves. We're going to get 5,000 supporters from Bradford and that's going to make it a big game."
Martin O'Neill admitted there is a "balancing act" as he tries to get Sunderland past Middlesbrough while rotating his side. "Of course you want players who've had less time in recent weeks to get on the field of play," he said, "and it's a fine balancing act but the most important issue is to win. It's a tough call."
Capital One Cup: Fourth round
(Kick-off 7.45pm unless stated)
Leeds v Southampton
Reading v Arsenal (TV: SS2)
Sunderland v Middlesbrough
Swindon v Aston Villa
Wigan v Bradford
Chelsea v Manchester United (TV: SS1 8pm)
Liverpool v Swansea
Norwich City v Tottenham
The fifth-round draw will take place tomorrow night after the Chelsea v Man United fixture.Reuse content