Friday 28 July 2017

Wenger focused on overdue trophy

Arsene Wenger. Photo: Getty Images
Arsene Wenger. Photo: Getty Images

Arsene Wenger has challenged his young Arsenal side to repay his faith by continuing their improvement to deliver success in 2011.

The Gunners are odds-on favourites to win the Carling Cup after beating Wigan and being drawn against npower Championship side Ipswich in the semi-finals.



Wenger may have warned against complacency, but Arsenal have come through a difficult spell to give supporters genuine hope they can finally end a six-season wait for a first trophy at Emirates Stadium.



Arsenal host Fulham on Saturday looking to maintain momentum from a hard-fought victory at Aston Villa and the 2-0 triumph over Wigan, which came despite nine changes, to get back to winning ways at home.



After the visit of the Cottagers - for a match which the club is dedicating to its charity of the season, Centrepoint, which helps London's youth homeless - Wenger will aim to guide his team safely though to the knockout stages of the Champions League against Partizan Belgrade before heading to Manchester United on December 13.



By then, the Frenchman hopes his squad will still be within touching distance of the leaders, whom they now trail by just two points as well as being behind Chelsea only on goal difference.



Wenger is in no doubt if Arsenal maintain focus, then success will follow.



"We are in a strong position in every single competition - that means overall the attitude is right, the spirit of the squad is right," Wenger told Arsenal TV Online.



"I am confident we have the necessary quality, so let's continue to improve."



Arsenal rested the likes of Marouane Chamakh, Andrey Arshavin and goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski against Wigan.



Wenger expects Samir Nasri to be fit for the clash against Fulham, but is unsure whether to hand Robin van Persie his second start of the week.



Midfielder Nasri picked up a minor knee problem after coming on as second-half substitute on Tuesday night.



With captain Cesc Fabregas still sidelined by a hamstring injury, the Frenchman provides a crucial creative spark for the Gunners, now just two points off leaders Manchester United whom they face at Old Trafford on December 13.



However, Wenger admits he may have to be cautious with Van Persie after the Dutchman completed 73 minutes in what was a first start since the end of August having been sidelined by an ankle injury.



"Nasri has got a knock from Tuesday night. It is a knee problem but he should be all right. Apart from that, we do not have any fresh players injured," Wenger said.



"There are no other ins or outs.



"[Abou] Diaby and [Thomas] Vermaelen are not available. Fabregas is still injured, so it will be a similar squad to the Aston Villa game."



However, Wenger added: "I will see how Robin recovers [before deciding whether to start him].



"I rotate a bit from game to game at the moment, so I will see - but we have quite a strong squad available."

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