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Wenger Admits Van Persie & Walcott Are “On The Edge”

Ahead of tonight Carling Cup tie with Man City, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has admitted Van Persie and Walcott are at risk of picking up an injury.

Arsenal’s 1 – 1 draw against Fulham on Saturday was the first time Wenger’s side have not gained maximum points in a game since the start of October. Their gain in form has been exceptional when the horrible start to the season is considered, and Wenger will be delighted with the “spirit” and “character” which he is known for emphasising that the winning streak has instilled into his side.

However, in football, it is never an easy road to success, and having played three competitive games in just seven days, a number of key Arsenal players are running on empty with a massive fixture against Manchester City in the Carling Cup tonight. Wenger said:

“We have a few players on the edge like Van Persie and Walcott, who had a hamstring alert, and Ramsey. We’ll have to see how they respond to 24 hours rest.”

“It will be easier for you to pick the Man City team because you can look in the stand and on the bench [against Liverpool] and you will see who plays on Tuesday. We have red alerts on a few players but I will pick as strong a team as I can.”

City have such a big squad that rotation will not be too big an issue despite having themselves suffered a gruelling week which included Champions League football – something new to them. For Arsenal however, rotating and still having a team strong enough to compete may come as a challenge, especially against the superstars of City.

For those Gunners worried that Wenger may put out a team of youngsters as he often does in Carling Cup ties; do not fear a repeat of the 8 – 2 mauling at the hand of Manchester United. The Arsenal manager will change his philosophy for this game in which a City team who have such richness in depth face a tired, possibly inexperienced Arsenal side. Wenger continued:

“I will change my philosophy a little bit. I’ve always said that I will play a team that has a chance to qualify. We will give them a game, don’t worry.”

The game is also likely to see the return of a certain player whom Arsenal fans may not take kindly to the sight of. Samir Nasri is certain to benefit from City’s rotation policy having not featured heavily in the past few months, and will make his comeback to the Emirates; a place he was so desperate to leave in the summer. However, Wenger being Wenger, he would much rather the inevitable abuse aimed at his countryman not become an issue on tonight, saying:

“You want to respect players who have played for us and that’s what we expect. It’s always more important to support our team than to be negative with the players from Man City. What is important is that we are united to win the game.”

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