Wenger Lines Up Rotation Frenzy

The Journal (Newcastle, England), February 19, 2007 | Go to article overview

Wenger Lines Up Rotation Frenzy


Byline: By Bill Pierce

Arsene Wenger has warned his Arsenal stars that any repeat of their lacklustre performance in a dreadful FA Cup draw with Blackburn over the course of the next ten days could be fatal to their ambitions for the rest of the season.

After allowing rugged Rovers to tie them up in knots in a stultifying fifth-round encounter at the Emirates Stadium, Arsenal now go to Holland to face PSV Eindhoven in the first leg of their last 16 Champions League tie tomorrow night.

After that they have Sunday's Carling Cup Final against Chelsea in Cardiff and then another trek to the north west for the Blackburn replay three days later.

And it seems certain that up to 22 different Arsenal players will figure in those three knockout clashes as boss Wenger keeps mixing and matching the high-class talents at his disposal.

It appears that whoever pulls on the Arsenal shirt, in whatever combination, Wenger now feels assured of the quality of his squad. What he does not know is whether the team will be able to make it count.

Sadly for the Frenchman, Saturday lunchtime in north London was one of those occasions when it just did not happen ( and it showed up all the inconsistencies which have made Gunners also-rans once more in the Premiership title race this season.

Now they have to hope for continued success in the cups to put at least one piece of silverware in the vaults at their sparkling new home.

Wenger said: "My strongest team? I don't know what that means, but the Champions League is vital to us because we want to play really well and go back to the final again. The Champions League is a special situation and we need to score away from home and be focused for 180 minutes (over the two legs)."

On Saturday, Wenger made nine changes to the starting 11 which should have seen off their infamous Bolton bogey much earlier than they actually did in extra time in last Wednesday's fourth round replay at the Reebok Stadium. …

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