By Chris Harris
Arsène Wenger has rejected the notion that the team he sent out to face Stoke in the FA Cup lacked experience.
Arsenal were beaten 3-1 in the Fourth Round of the competition on Sunday and their manager was roundly criticised for resting a number of key players and fielding seven starters aged 21 or under.
But although Wenger admits that the next four Premier League fixtures - against Aston Villa, Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool - were on his mind when he picked his starting XI, he insists that Arsenal lined up with plenty of big-match experience.
"'I do not feel I was as cautious as many people said on Sunday," said Wenger.
"Many people reproached me for example for putting in an inexperienced team. Francis Coquelin and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas were not experienced, but the rest had plenty of experience.
"They were just two players in a team of 11 which had Sol Campbell, Mikael Silvestre, Armand Traore and Lukasz Fabianski, who have played many games.
"Cesc Fabregas, Carlos Vela and Theo Walcott too - that is not a team that is inexperienced.
"But of course I still had these four [Premier League] games in my mind.''