By Declan Taylor
Arsène Wenger does not think his side are in the position to “choose” their competitions this season.
Like the other ‘big four’ managers, Wenger sometimes fields fringe players in the FA Cup, preferring to rest his stars for Premier League and European fixtures. But the 59-year-old does not think that Arsenal can afford that luxury this season and was keen to keep confidence high with a win against Championship side Plymouth Argyle in the Third Round.
After watching his nigh-on full-strength XI overcome their visitors at Emirates Stadium on Saturday the Frenchman admitted that progress in both the FA Cup and the Champions League would give him a “choice to make”. But, for now, the manager regards the FA Cup as a genuine silverware opportunity.
“I feel that we are not, at the moment, in a position where we can choose the competitions,” said the manager. “If that happens we will do it later but at the moment I felt it was just important for the Club and the team to go through.
“I feel that slowly the team is coming up again and growing in confidence and I didn’t want to cut that confidence. I was conscious that it was a difficult game first of all and, secondly, we couldn’t afford to slip up here, at home, in the Third Round because we have had enough negative publicity.
“You could see that, with some results like Chelsea and Manchester City, that it’s very tight, and our game was not easy.
“If you go through to the Champions League Quarter Finals and then to the Semi Finals, then you have a choice to make between the FA Cup and the Champions League. But, at the moment, we are not in that position.”
Even if Wenger had wanted to rest more of his established players against the Pilgrims the lengthy injury list at Emirates Stadium meant that his hands were tied.
“On the other hand I didn’t have too much choice,” explained the manager. “If you see what I had on the bench, I rested one player in [Emmanuel] Adebayor, but apart from that I didn’t rest many.
“At the moment we have Denilson out and Song out and when they are back we will be maybe a bit stronger. But we are a bit short at the moment with long-term injuries. Cesc Fabregas was not expected, and Rosicky and Walcott as well coming back in March only, and that’s a lot.”Copyright 2013 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 5 Jan 2009