Arsene Wenger plans to rotate Arsenal squad for FA Cup

Arsene Wenger feels he has little option but to rotate Arsenal's battle-weary squad as the Gunners kick off their bid for FA Cup glory against Leeds on Saturday.

Arsenal completed an unbeaten Christmas schedule with last night's goalless draw against title rivals Manchester City at the Emirates Stadium, where they struck the woodwork twice in the first half and Robin van Persie was also later denied by a fine save from England number one Joe Hart.

Wenger's men are now four points adrift of leaders Manchester United, who have a match in hand, and trail City by two having played a game less.

Before thoughts of re-igniting their championship challenge at bottom club West Ham in a fortnight, there is an FA Cup third-round date against npower Championship promotion hopefuls Leeds to get through, which will be swiftly followed by the first leg of their Carling Cup semi-final against Ipswich.

With goalkeeper Manuel Almunia, centre-back Thomas Vermaelen and midfielder Abou Diaby all on the road to recovery and out of an uncharacteristically sparse treatment room, Wenger does not want to take any chances by overloading the rest of his team.

There will be at least one enforced change as Bacary Sagna starts a three-match suspension after Wenger confirmed there would be no appeal against the right-back's needless red card for a clash with Pablo Zabaleta late in the City game.

Emmanuel Eboue is a ready-made replacement, while fit-again England defender Kieran Gibbs, having now recovered from his latest ankle injury problem, should come in on the left and young midfielder Aaron Ramsey could also feature after his return from a productive loan spell at Nottingham Forest.

"We will rotate. There are going to be changes, many changes," Wenger confirmed to Arsenal TV Online.

"It will be good to have Kieran back and Eboue will play as Sagna is suspended.

"I have somewhere in my mind that I will make changes, but I don't know who will play.

"From last night, we have no serious injuries.

"I believe that [Samir] Nasri and [Robin] van Persie could be short for Saturday. They have kicks - van Persie on the hip and Nasri on the ankle. It is a question of days.

"They have a chance to recover in time, but I will certainly rest van Persie and maybe Nasri."

Wenger insisted there was no point trying to get Sagna's sanction overturned.

"I have seen it again and there is no way we can appeal. For me it is a red card and we have to accept it," the Arsenal manager said.

"Bacary lost his temper and had too strong a reaction. He acknowledges that he should have kept control. We will not appeal."

Although Wenger is set to shuffle his pack, the Arsenal boss is all too aware of the challenge ahead if they are to avoid suffering a shock in front of the live television cameras on Saturday lunchtime.

"It will be another big game - you know the third round of the FA Cup is always very tricky," said Wenger, whose team's last trophy came with victory in the 2005 final.

"We need to swallow our frustration from the Man City match and quickly focus again for Saturday.

"We have players who are coming back, players who have not played and we will rotate - that is vital."

News
news
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
tvChristmas special reviewed
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Sport
sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all