By Chris Harris
Arsène Wenger understands the frustration of players who cannot force their way into the Arsenal first team but he insists that competition is part and parcel of life at a big club.
The form of Cesc Fabregas and Mathieu Flamini has restricted Lassana Diarra's opportunities since he swapped Chelsea for Arsenal in August. The Frenchman has made 12 appearances in total with six of those in the Premier League.
Reports of Diarra's unhappiness have appeared in the media and he has been linked with a move away from Emirates Stadium in January. Wenger sympathises with Diarra's plight but has urged him to fight for his place.
"You can not be in the game so long and not understand the frustation of the players who do not play but at the end of the day I will act for what is good for the Club," said Wenger. "That is my first responsibility. What is important is what is good for hundreds of thousands, not for just one.
"Diarra is a fantastic player, he is 100 per cent professional in training every day. There is no problem and he is in the squad tomorrow. I try to make everybody happy but it is impossible. But it is part of your job, you cannot always feel sorry for players who are frustrated. When you are a professional football player, competition is part of your job.
"What I cannot understand is people who are surprised that there is competition at a big club. If you change tomorrow to another big club there is competition again. You have another manager who at the end of the week picks 11 players and 15 will have to deal with the situation. Why does that raise questions? It is part of our job.
"It is completely normal that he wants to play. You cannot be at our level, in one of the biggest clubs in the world, paid at a fantastic level and have no competition. I am always surprised to be asked about it. We are not in kindergarten here, we are in a job for men."
Wenger is renowned for giving young players their chance in the first team - Cesc Fabregas, Nicolas Anelka, Patrick Vieira and countless others can testify to that. The Arsenal manager believes that Diarra's opportunity will also come.
"You tell me one club in the world, of this size, that gives the chances to young players like we do. There isn't one. At our club young players are in paradise because usually you wait until 26 or 27. You go to Madrid, Milan, where do the young players play?
"Players like Diarra are top level. But you have moments in your career when the team is doing well, you have a player in front of you, and that is hard luck. But still at the end of the day it is a job for strong people and those who stay strong always come out.
"At a big club there is big competition. Diarra has the talent to be in a big club. I can understand that he is unhappy not to play but you have to stay where you belong - and he belongs to a big club. If he continues to fight he will play."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 28 Dec 2007