By Richard Clarke

Opportunity should knock for Julio Baptista at Sheffield United on Saturday.

Brazilians and Bramall Lane normally don't mix but the 25-year-old midfielder is expected to make only his third Arsenal start against Neil Warnock's side. Given that Baptista is only on a year-long loan from Real Madrid and the English season is just past the halfway point, he'll be looking to impress.

"Julio has a lot to prove in the next six months," said Wenger. "I am leaning more one way than the other about taking him [permanently]. But I will not give you the way I am leaning.

"Still, I think he is ready to play now. The problem he has is for me to give him the number of opportunities he deserves.

"All the players need a run but what can you do? That's why I don't understand when people ask 'will you buy in January?'. Where do I put the players?"

Like many new arrivals, Baptista's progress suffered a set-back when he picked up a hamstring injury in October. It cost him considerable progression at a crucial time of the season.

"Just when he was looking very sharp we played against Charlton Reserves here at the Training Ground and he got a big injury," said Wenger. "He was out for six or seven weeks. On that day he looked really convincing in the game and it was sad to lose him.

"We have had plenty of [new] players who take time or get injured. We have a different training regime and maybe their muscles work in a different way.

"He had not played much football before he joined us and that can be a vicious circle. But it is a difficult job being a footballer. When you get the chance you must be ready. Yet I have not seen one minute when he has not been completely dedicated.

"He has a great attitude and is very strong mentally. I like him as a player but I agree he has not got the opportunities to show how good he is."



25/1 - Sheffield Utd v Arsenal: Van Persie scores first and Arsenal win 2-1


Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source Richard Clarke 29 Dec 2006