Winning Arsenal’s next game is as important for Arsene Wenger as risking players on the “fringes of injuries” in football action.
The Frenchman says the Gunners will approach Saturday’s FA Cup third-round tie with fellow North London rivals like a “top level Premier League game” as he look to add a fifth trophy to his FA Cup collection.
“The FA Cup is an opportunity we want to take, we can give absolutely everything in this game,” said Wenger in his pre-game presser.
“I had the luck to win four FA Cups and I’m keen for us to win it again.”
Arsenal lost out of last season’s tournament to Blackburn Rovers, the first in 34 games they had lost at the magnificent Emirate Stadium and Wenger says it still hurts. What discomforts him the more is a growing injury list, which recently claimed Nicklas Bendtner and now Olivier Giroud- a doubt for tomorrow’s cracker.
“We have lost Bendtner, Giroud’s ankle was quite positive but he is sick,” the Arsenal coach said on his team news, while also stressing the club will only consider buying a new striker if Bendner’s condition does not show signs of improvement.
The league leaders hosts Spurs following a heavy Christmas scheduled which had them play four matches in the space of nine days.
Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert had earlier suggested that Premier League coaches wouldn’t want to get distracted with the FA Cup, the oldest football tournament in the world, but Wenger believes the match against Tottenham should be exciting as he does not look to rest players except those at risk of injury.
“I will only rest the players who are on the fringes of injuries or are very tired,” Wenger said. “But that will be very restricted to a minimal number of players.
“I just consider that it is our next game – we are Arsenal Football Club and we want to win the next game, that is vital for us.
“In this case I consider it a top level Premier League game, that means I have to play a team who has a chance to win a top level Premier League game.”
Spurs go into the encounter in the wake of a 2-1 league win over Manchester United at Old Trafford and despite having won just two (D3, L4) of their last nine away games in the tournament, they will be fired up for another surprise result.
Wenger is aware of Emmanuel Adebayor’s “talent” and Roberto Soldado’s threat upfront. He says the duo have to be caged.
Wenger added: “Tottenham are more adventurous now and they took a gamble with (new manager, Tim) Sherwood that has paid off at the moment”
“Our rivalry with Tottenham hasn’t changed, it’s always a fight to get in front of them.”