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
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark episode 8, review
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones
tvSeries 5, Episode 3 review
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

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence