Wenger keeps squad on toes for busy spell

Arsene Wenger has described the necessity for squad rotation as "difficult but enjoyable". Arsenal host Stoke City tonight, the first match in a run of five games in 13 days which includes the League Cup final and their return game in Barcelona. While such congestion naturally brings certain problems, it also allows Wenger to use more of his squad and his young players, and is therefore a useful opportunity for the Arsenal manager.

"It is very difficult", conceded Wenger to Arsenal TV online, regarding the club's glut of fixtures, "but it is as well enjoyable because it gives competition to everybody. That is what you want to do as a manager, give everybody an opportunity to show how good he is. It keeps the whole squad focused in so many competitions. There is a real togetherness inside the squad, they fight for places but as well they have a good understanding and a good bond. I believe to have this competition helps."

Selecting a fit team every few days will demand careful judgement from club staff, and Wenger acknowledged doing so would require him to trust his instincts as much as medical analysis. "We study everything we can but in the end your intuition goes with the analysis and you go with what you feel. That doesn't mean you are right but at the end of the day you have to make the decision. Experience helps in that, when you know the players well, how they respond, how you have seen them respond before in similar situations."

Robin van Persie and Laurent Koscielny are among the Arsenal players who will miss tonight's game, with hamstring and back problems respectively. Another of Arsenal's upcoming fixtures is their FA Cup replay with Leyton Orient, a result of conceding a late equaliser at Brisbane Road last Sunday. Wenger was not too disappointed with the outcome, however, describing it as "part of the beauty of a cup competition in England".

Moreover, the replay will allow Wenger to deploy more players who might otherwise not be starting. Aaron Ramsey, who returns from Cardiff City on Saturday, is in Wenger's thoughts. "He could be available for the second game against Leyton Orient. Yes, I intend to use him. I have had good reports from Cardiff.."

Regarding this evening's opposition, Wenger was complimentary. "They look to be very dangerous, they look to have very good players," he said of Tony Pulis's side. "They have Kenwyne Jones, [Jon] Walters, [John] Carew, [Jermaine] Pennant, [Matthew] Etherington, they have a side who look capable of beating anybody in the Premier League." When asked about Stoke's physical threat, Wenger recognised that it had to be combated. "We have to cope with that, to close them down, to cut the crosses out."

Pulis said that his side will have to play as well as they can to achieve a result: "I can say we're not on their level", he observed, having watched Arsenal beat Barcelona last week. "So we just have to go there and do our best, and that's what we'll do. We have to be switched on. It's a game we know will be very, very difficult, even if we play at our best. If we don't, then we're in trouble". Etherington will be assessed today after injuring his back, while Asmir Begovic may return.

Arsenal's signing Barcelona youngster Jon Miquel Toral Harper is understood to be amicable. The 16-year-old is expected to join Arsenal in the summer but this is no surprise to Barcelona, as Harper's mother is English and his desire to return to England was long-standing. Furthermore, Harper's agent is Pere Guardiola, brother of Pep, the Barca coach.



News
The two faces revealed by the ultraviolet light
newsScholars left shaken after shining ultraviolet light on 500-year-old Welsh manuscript
News
Rosamund Pike played Bond girld Miranda Frost, who died in Die Another Day (PA)
news
Arts and Entertainment
books
News
newsHow do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? With people like this
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat