By Chris Harris
If Arsène Wenger changes his team for Tuesday night's game against Porto, his motive will be rotation not punishment.
The Arsenal manager suggested he would tinker with his line-up after Saturday's shock defeat against Hull City and the issue cropped up at his pre-match press conference on Monday. However, Wenger made it very clear that any omitted players should not been seen as scapegoats.
"Punishment? No, you know sometimes you make changes because you consider the other team, you consider the balance of your team, sometimes because one player is not at his best," insisted Wenger.
"If a player or two do not play tomorrow it is not a punishment, it is just because of a rotation in the side. You cannot play every single game with the same 11 players."
Criticism of the team was inevitable after Arsenal let a one-goal lead slip at the weekend and conceded a headed goal from a corner for the third time this season, and Wenger was offered plenty of 'solutions' on Monday.
Some suggested Carlos Vela, the Carling Cup hat-trick hero, could start against Porto, others raised the possibility of Mikael Silvestre adding experience to the back four and one journalist asked whether Kolo Toure could be moved into midfield. The Arsenal manager was quick to defend his defence, refused to be drawn on Vela's inclusion and ruled out a new role for Toure.
"I believe the goal we conceded where we are less guilty is the corner against Hull because it was a well-taken chance," he said. "[Hull's Daniel] Cousin is very tall and very good in the air. It was a perfect header and that can happen to anybody.
"You gain experience through the games. At the back is where we have experience because you cannot say with Clichy and Sagna and Kolo and Gallas that we lack experience. Will Kolo play in midfield? No, not at all.
"As for Vela, it's difficult to go into any individual case. I believe Carlos Vela is a player of the squad and the whole squad will be used over the season. You cannot go from one team to the other and change 11 players because we just lost one game.
"I believe what is happening is that players have shown quality behind the first team and that is very interesting for the future of the Club."Copyright 2016 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