MEET OUR TOP GUN; Wenger: Only One Tom Cruise

The Mirror (London, England), December 9, 2009 | Go to article overview
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MEET OUR TOP GUN; Wenger: Only One Tom Cruise


Byline: DARREN LEWIS

ARSENE WENGER will tonight put his faith in rookie left-back Tom Cruise to become Arsenal's Top Gun.

Wenger has taken his youngest-ever Champions League team to Olympiacos with ten teenagers in the squad and will give 18-year-old Cruise his first team debut.

Gunners boss Wenger will also give 17-year-old Jack Wilshere his big chance in Europe.

Fit-again Theo Walcott will also start and French veteran Mikael Silvestre will skipper the side.

Wenger, joking about the Londoner with the same name as the Hollywood movie star, said: "He's used to the mickeytaking.

But, for me, there's only one Tom Cruise and he's the one who plays for Arsenal!

"Tom is a very good footballer.

I don't want him to be under too much pressure for the game.

"If you are in his boots you don't think you will get the opportunity to play in the Champions League at the start of the season.

"It's good for the players to get the opportunity to play in these games. Jack Wilshere and Fran Merida will play as well."

Wenger confesses he is taking a gamble in Athens - but insists his young players can come of age in the absence of Cesc Fabregas, William Gallas and Andrey Arshavin. Wenger says some of Arsenal's future stars can help save him a fortune in the January window by proving they are good enough to step up to the first team.

Going into the market will only be as a last resort as Wenger makes it clear he does not want to spend big to replace injured striker Robin van Persie.

Wenger said: "If I do buy in January it will be because of the injuries, especially van Persie's. He may not be back until April or May which is very late for us.

"It is a risk and a gamble but I believe these players are ready and they will be focused. Maybe this team will be more focused than the regular firstteam players because they have something to prove.

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