Throughout their exhilarating run to Cardiff, Arsène Wenger has always maintained he would stay faithful to his policy of playing youngsters and squad players. And that means he will shun the possibility of bringing back the big guns at the Millennium Stadium.
"I will play the players who have made the whole campaign," he said. "They must have contributed at least one game. This competition is a bit special for me so I will keep it special to the end.
"Jens is suspended anyway. William Gallas, I don't think he has a chance to play and Thierry will not be involved either. It would not be fair to play the big players.
"Thierry knew from the start that he was not involved in this competition anyway."
In fact the only way the Club captain will figure next week is if Arsenal fall prey to a run of bad luck.
"Listen," said Wenger. "I can't say today he [definitely] won't play. If we have three injuries he will play. You can never say never in our job. But, basically, if everybody is available he will not play."
All this begs the question who will play for Arsenal next week? The Carling Cup side has been based upon players like Denilson, Armand Traore, Jeremie Aliadiere and Theo Walcott but, at the same time, the only first-teamers who have not figured are Lehmann (suspended), Van Persie (injured), Ljungberg, Gallas and Henry.
Therefore Wenger can still stay true to his proclamations and field many more established players.
"There are two things in the Carling Cup," replied the Frenchman when asked directly. "One is to try and play the younger players and then adjust to the difficulty of the team we are playing.
"We do not go there and say 'here is the trophy'
and come out with our youth team.
But I will play only players who have played in Carling Cup."
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