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Thursday 17 April 2014

Wenger defends squad break

Arsene Wenger gave his Arsenal players two days off this week

Arsene Wenger has hit out at being forced to justify handing his Arsenal stars two days' rest this week.

The Arsenal manager branded criticism of his decision "unbelievable" ahead of his side's Barclays Premier League trip to Stoke on Saturday.

Wenger revealed Mesut Ozil will be fit to return after hip trouble for the weekend's Potters clash, with Thomas Vermaelen also expected to be available.

Wenger said German playmaker Ozil is now ready to shrug off his costly penalty miss in Arsenal's 2-0 Champions League loss to Bayern Munich.

"It's not necessarily fatigue, I don't see why that's suddenly a problem," said Wenger when questioned on the impromptu rest period he handed his squad this week.

"We have played without a break since December, we don't have to justify that, it's unbelievable.

"We are in a society where everyone wants to control everything; I don't understand this at all.

"We are entitled to do unusual things. We came out of a heavy schedule. We had two days off, that's all.

"Sometimes it's not only physical, it's mental, you're under pressure all the time, there's nothing unusual there."

Admitting he is still weighing up whether to employ Vermaelen at left back to cover other absentees, Wenger backed Ozil to shrug off recent struggles with the Premier League's relentless intensity.

"He (Ozil) had a difficult game because he missed that penalty, and it was on his mind," said Wenger.

"Sometimes when you're under this kind of pressure it's good to refresh.

"My opportunity is just to put the best team out who can win the game, it's not about individuals, it's about the team.

"If needed Thomas can play there (at left back), it's not his preferred position.

"He's been out for a long time but I still have 48 hours to make that decision."

Olmypiacos loan forward Joel Campbell now has the physicality and temperament to secure himself a long-term future at Arsenal, Wenger revealed.

The 21-year-old claimed a fine individual goal in the Greek side's 2-0 Champions League victory over Manchester United in Athens in midweek.

Wenger said a series of loan stints have stood the Costa Rica forward in good stead.

"He was good (against Manchester United), convincing in going forward, he looks like he has adapted better to the physical side of the European game," said Wenger.

"We always knew that he had the talent to create something special.

"He did rely a bit too much on that, but he has now been out at three different clubs, at Lorient, Sevilla, and Betis.

"Now he is at Olympiacos and he has learned the toughness of the European leagues.

"I will decide (his future) later, but why not? We bought him to bring him here."

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