Wenger chews over selection

  • Last Updated: March 15 2013, 7:53 GMT

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger must decide whether to recall captain Thomas Vermaelen and goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny at Swansea on Saturday - or stick with the defence which helped beat Bayern Munich.

Wojciech Szczesny: Didn't travel in midweek
Wojciech Szczesny: Didn't travel in midweek

Szczesny was left back in London when the rest of the squad travelled out to Bavaria on Tuesday afternoon, with Wenger revealing the Poland international had been "mentally affected" by the number of games he played this season.

Despite not playing a first-team match in more than a year, Lukasz Fabianski went on to produce a solid display, making some smart saves in the 2-0 win and could well have forced his way back into the starting XI again at Liberty Stadium.

Skipper Vermaelen had been at the pre-match media conference, sitting alongside Wenger as he talked up Arsenal's Mission: Impossible in the Allianz Arena, which almost came off on Wednesday night following an early strike from Olivier Giroud and a late header by Laurent Koscielny which levelled the tie on aggregate, but still saw the English side out on away goals.

Koscielny performed well alongside Per Mertesacker as the Gunners rearguard for one looked composed rather than pulled out of shape and becoming architects of their own downfall.

With full-back Kieran Gibbs to be assessed after completing a full 90 minute on his return from a thigh injury, Wenger could yet rejig the defence once again as Arsenal go in search of the win needed to keep alive hopes of gatecrashing the top four once again.

Wenger said: "I don't know if he (Vermaelen) will play at Swansea. I believe the whole defence played well - Koscielny, Mertesacker, (Carl) Jenkinson, Gibbs and the keeper.

"You cannot constrict a team like Bayern at home to no chances, but we looked solid defensively.

"I want to see how everybody recovers. We rotate a bit at the back and in midfield because have a massive game on Saturday."

Arsenal will again, though, be without midfielder Jack Wilshere this weekend as he rests an ankle injury which also rules him out of England's forthcoming World Cup qualifiers.

Mikel Arteta captained Arsenal against Bayern and he felt Fabianski showed great composure after returning in such a big game following a long spell without a competitive fixture.

"There was a lot of pressure on him, mentally as well, but he came in and was fantastic," the Spaniard said.

"Lukasz has been working really hard, he has done it here, so why can he not do it in the following games?"

Arteta feels Arsenal can use the performance in Bayern to kickstart their charge for Champions League qualification once again as the Gunners look to reel in first Chelsea and then possibly even rivals Tottenham, who dropped points after defeat at Liverpool and needed extra-time to get past Inter Milan in their Europa League tie last night.

"It has to give us confidence, but we must keep our feet on the earth as well because we haven't been on the consistency [level] that is required at this football club," Arteta said.

"On Saturday, if we are not at it, we are going to face a really difficult team which is Swansea away from home."

Arteta added: "For us it (Champions League) is massive, for the club and the fans, we cannot afford to be out of the Champions League.

"You never know in football. We have to focus on us. At the moment it doesn't depend on us, but the only thing we can do is win every game."

Arsenal have often been criticised for a supposed lack of leadership within the squad.

Arteta, though, disagrees.

He said: "We have got the characters and the desire, we do really care.

"We have a lot of different nationalities here and sometimes that is a difficult thing to manage.

"However, in this changing room, I haven't seen that problem.

"We get criticised, and some days we really deserve it, but after this result, we deserve better.

"We are going to keep fighting until the end."


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