Arsene Wenger urges fans to have faith in Arsenal youngsters

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The Independent Online

Arsene Wenger has called on Arsenal fans to "keep faith" in his vision as he looks to guide the young Gunners into the semi-finals of the Carling Cup.

The 4-2 victory at Aston Villa on Saturday avoided a third straight defeat, following on from the bitter disappointment of blowing a two-goal lead as arch-rivals Tottenham fought back to win the north London derby at Emirates Stadium and then going down 2-0 in Braga to leave Champions League qualification not yet assured.

Those performances once again had pundits and supporters alike questioning Arsenal's backbone and ability to turn potential into silverware.

Wenger, though, maintains his side have the quality needed to come good in the end as they look to secure a first trophy since the 2005 FA Cup by staying on course for Wembley with victory against Wigan at Emirates Stadium tomorrow.

"For over two months we have played every three days, and part of that is sometimes you have ups and downs. It is how you respond to that," Wenger told Arsenal TV Online.

"The problem at the moment is that when these kind of things happen, everybody is emphasising the negative sides."

Wenger declared: "I am still quite optimistic, even if disappointed by the results.

"I have no major reason to doubt the team and the players, so even if my disappointment was huge, maybe that is why I am less down than many people because I see all the positive signs which are in my team.

"I am confident on the longer-term, like it is a marathon, that will all come out - keep with us, and keep faith with the team.

"I know their attitude is spot on, I know they have the quality - and we will not always lose games where the opponent only has one shot on goal."

Wenger is again set to name a strong squad for the visit of the Latics, having come through a tough test at Spurs before then impressing with a 4-0 win at Newcastle.

"The only thing I promise is that we will take the tie seriously," the Arsenal manager insisted.

"But I have to consider how many games my players play.

"For six weeks we have played every three days with Champions League and internationals.

"I will consider who needs to play and who needs to rest."

Theo Walcott and Nicklas Bendtner were both on target at St James Park in the last round and would expect another chance tomorrow having both been left on the bench against Villa, where victory moved the Gunners - albeit temporarily - top of the Barclays Premier League.

Holland forward Robin van Persie was another unused substitute at the weekend, and could feature as he looks to improve match sharpness following an ankle problem.

Marouane Chamakh, who took his tally into double figures against Villa, is likely to be rested, while captain Cesc Fabregas (hamstring) is still sidelined and centre-half Sebastien Squillaci (knee) will miss the tie.

Wenger, though, must decide whether to recall fit again goalkeeper Manuel Almunia or keep faith with young Pole Wojciech Szczesny, who made some impressive saves in the last round.

Utility man Emmanuel Eboue could make a quick return after being carried off against Braga with what appeared a serious knee injury.

Wenger said: "When we made a scan his knee was swollen, but the ligament was intact so we decided to push him back as quickly as possible and the tests were successful."

Arsenal, meanwhile, are keeping an eye on weather conditions in the capital.

A club statement read: "Like the many supporters coming to Tuesday night's sold-out Carling Cup match against Wigan Athletic, the club is monitoring adverse weather conditions affecting London in the forthcoming days.

"From all of the information it has at present, the club expects the fixture to go ahead as planned and supporters are advised to plan as normal for Tuesday night's match.

"The situation is being continually assessed by club officials and any relevant updates will be communicated on Arsenal.com."

Last season, Arsenal were forced to postpone their Barclays Premier League game against Bolton in January because of heavy snowfall in London.

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