Published: Thu, December 07, 2017
Sport | By Wilson Duncan

Fringe stars to get chance as Wenger names weakened Arsenal squad

Fringe stars to get chance as Wenger names weakened Arsenal squad

Arsenal have already booked their place in the knockout rounds of the UEFA Europa League after confirming top spot in Group H in the last round of fixtures.

Chambers and Maitland-Niles will probably start in the wing-back positions for the Gunners.

However, it seems as if the Arsenal manager is focused more on keeping his fringe players sharp and match-fit than youth development as they get ready to face the Belarusian side at the Emirates.

"Matic is injured but will play for sure, I'm telling the truth but he will play for sure", Mourinho declared towards the end of a lengthy injury update.

"He had tests on Friday morning and we thought he wouldn't play".

Olivier Giroud, Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott have not started a Premier League match between them in 2017-18, but have played in Europa League ties. It won't be the youngsters, no matter how promising they are or how much potential they have. Even in training when I play the team in Europa League against the team in the Premier League, it's very hard to predict who will win.

Walcott has not played for Arsenal since the 0-0 draw with Red Star Belgrade on November 2, with illness seeing him sidelined for over a fortnight of that period.

The Germany worldwide would have been highly unlikely to feature against BATE anyway with his sole Europa League appearance in 2017-18 to date coming in the original clash with the Belarusian champions back in September. There was obviously disappointment when Arsenal failed to qualify for the Champions League, but that was tempered somewhat by the novelty of a competition that wasn't just more of the same.

"I have adapted my body to the load of playing in the Premier League and am building up that fitness gradually". Compare that to a year ago when despite far less rotation they had, at this stage, only lost once in the league, and that was on the opening day.

"I will adapt every time and try to pick a balanced team". There certainly hasn't been anyone whose performances suggest they should be starting.

"We'll play quite an experienced team on Thursday".

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