Wenger calls on Keown to bolster youngsters

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The Independent Online

On the eve of this evening's demanding FA Cup fourth-round tie at Bolton, Arsène Wenger revealed that he has been drawing on the competitive nature of his former defender Martin Keown in an effort to bolster the confidence of the younger members of his squad.

"He has been with me now for three or four months," Wenger said, "because I have a very young squad and needed more experience in the dressing room so they would not be uncertain or insecure because they lose a game or two. He is a reassuring presence.

"'People who know the culture of the club and who are winners, we want them to get that culture into the young players and help push them forward. Martin is doing his coaching badge, and I said 'come in and you can get experience with us'. On the other hand he can help, because he is an Arsenal man."

Wenger, who also has former Highbury defender Steve Bould, 43, working with the youngsters, acknowledged that there was plenty of work to do in the wake of Tuesday's Carling Cup defeat at the hands of Wigan. Wenger said his side face a tough match tonight at the Reebok Stadium, where they have already been beaten in the Premiership this season, and he accepted that part of the reason was a failure to match Bolton's appetite for the ugly parts of the game.

"As a team, we were not strong enough in the challenges," Wenger said. "We need a higher level of commitment physically to make better results away from home. But this is a game I want because we can go and show that we have good strength after our midweek result. We are not going there to tell them, 'here's a red carpet, just go through to the next round and we will watch you'.

"We can be successful by being strong in the air and winning our challenges in the middle of the field, and by spending as little time as possible in our own box. But when we have won the ball, we have to remember to put the ball down and play our own game, not their game."

Wenger said teams have bullied his side this season. "Basically, every game becomes a typical Cup game for us," he said. "But we must not expect our opponents to change their game. We have to cope with it."

Arsenal will be without Lauren, Gilberto Silva and Thierry Henry with injury, while Robert Pires and Dennis Bergkamp will be rested. Frederick Ljungberg, Philippe Senderos and Sol Campbell all start.

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