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Wenger to make use of squad for Stoke

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger feels he has little option but to make the best use of his battle-weary squad for the FA Cup trip to Stoke on Sunday.

The Gunners head to the Britannia Stadium having gone top of the Premier League, albeit only on goal difference, following a 4-2 win over Bolton at Emirates Stadium.

The victory, however, came at a cost, as midfielder Abou Diaby is set for a spell on the sidelines with a calf injury.

Full-back Bacary Sagna is another who needs to be rested because of a shoulder problem as Wenger looks to protect some of his key men ahead of a run of matches which will make or break the campaign.

However, that is likely to mean a chance for former captain Sol Campbell to make his return having signed on a short-term contract last week.

"I will assess the situation on Friday and Saturday, but we will certainly make use of the squad," said Wenger.

"We have lost no one else from Bolton, but some have played on the fringe like Bacary Sagna, who has a bad shoulder. He will absolutely need to be rested."

Wenger revealed Diaby's injury was not too severe.

"He is out for Stoke and certainly for the Villa game," said the Arsenal manager. There is hope he might be back for Manchester United, but we don't know yet."

England forward Theo Walcott came off the bench against Bolton, who had led 2-0, and so could be given another run-out on Sunday.

The next time Arsenal resume league action, it will be the start of a crucial phase of the season. First up will be a trip to Aston Villa on January 27, with the small matter of the visit of Man Utd four days later.

The following weekend will see Arsenal at Chelsea, before hosting Liverpool on February 10 ahead of the Champions League last-16 clash against Porto.

Wenger said: "After these games, it (title hopes) depends whether you are top of the league on goal difference or if you are 12 points ahead.

"We are in a fight where we are at the top of the league at the moment.

"The real difference is made with the teams you fight against (for the title). Those games have mathematically a much bigger impact on the table than like against Bolton."

Wenger added: "It is very important we keep a good mixture between humility, with our feet on the ground and of course ambition and desire to win it."

Defender William Gallas, meanwhile, will not face any retrospective disciplinary action from the FA following his tackle on Bolton's Mark Davies, which left the midfielder with a serious ankle injury, in the build-up to Arsenal's equaliser as referee Alan Wiley considered he dealt with the incident as he saw it at the time.

Full-back Kieran Gibbs is, however, set to miss the rest of the campaign as he needs further surgery to repair a depressed fracture to a metatarsal.