Crystal Palace v Arsenal: Arsene Wenger to pair Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla together for trip to Selhurst Park
Wenger reveals that Ozil was suffering from a virus against Borussia Dortmund but will be fit to start alongside Cazorla on Saturday
Friday 25 October 2013
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger feels you can never have enough attacking midfield options as he prepares to unleash both Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla on managerless Crystal Palace.
The Barclays Premier League leaders will be looking to bounce back from their midweek Champions League home defeat by Borussia Dortmund when they travel to Selhurst Park for Saturday's lunchtime kick-off.
Ozil returned a somewhat subdued display against Dortmund, which was a first for the German playmaker since his club-record £43million deadline day move from Real Madrid.
Wenger, though, revealed that was in part down to the midfielder suffering from a virus in the build-up to the match, and he sees no reason why both Ozil and Cazorla, just back from an injury lay-off, cannot produce an effective partnership at the heart of the Arsenal team.
"The more you have the better is it. They can play together," said Wenger, who will check on the fitness of Jack Wilshere's troublesome ankle ahead of the game, but will have midfielder Mathieu Flamini available after he sat out the European tie having suffered a mild concussion in the win over Norwich last Saturday.
"I did not start Cazorla on Tuesday night because I did not feel he was completely ready physically, but when he came on he did well.
"Ozil said he was alright, but in the two days before he had a virus and you could see that physically he was not at his best.
"Dortmund, though, were organised to stop us from playing our game and one of their game plans was to stop Ozil from getting into the game and they did that."
The Gunners will not face anything like Jurgen Klopp's well-organised outfit when they tackle the managerless Eagles, who have managed just three points from eight league games with Monday night's 4-1 home defeat to Fulham proving the finale for Ian Holloway's colourful spell in charge.
Holloway felt he did not have the energy to help Palace turn around their early-season troubles since coming up through the play-offs.
Despite that Wenger still believes the decision, which was made by mutual consent, was "very quick" for a manager he has much respect for.
"For me, he has exceptional talent to manage a football team," the Arsenal boss added.
"He is a football man, has something that belongs to him that he is special, but you feel there is a strength in there that can take people on board with him."
Wenger added: "Defeat after defeat when you want absolutely everything to win it can drain you down, that can happen to everybody and when you are a bit older you can maybe deal with it a little bit better, but what is the killer in our job to lose a succession of games and when you lose five, six or seven on the trot that is difficult to swallow."
Nevertheless, Wenger does not want his team to concentrate on anything else than producing the required result to keep them top of the Premier League.
"You don't speculate too much on how they will respond. I think what is important in our job is that you focus to be at your best and that we respond in a strong way to our disappointment on Tuesday night," he said.
Wilshere was substituted during the second half against Dortmund having earlier caused some concern when he pulled up after jarring his ankle when running through on goal.
Wenger, though, believes with careful management, Wilshere can maintain his fitness following a frustrating spell on the sidelines which scuppered his hopes of playing at both Euro 2012 and the London Olympics.
"No it is not a major problem, but as I told you before the season started I will have to monitor him until he is completely through that period with any doubts and that is what I tried to do," the Arsenal manager said.
Arsenal club captain Thomas Vermaelen could well be on the bench again at Selhurst Park after only playing 10 minutes in the Premier League this season since his return from a back injury.
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