Wenger rests some regulars

  • Last Updated: December 3 2012, 16:29 GMT

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has chosen to rest several first-team regulars for Tuesday night's final Champions League Group B tie against Olympiacos in Athens.

Theo Walcott: Among those left at home
Theo Walcott: Among those left at home

With the Gunners already qualified for the knockout stage, England duo Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere both stayed behind, along with Lukas Podolski, Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Per Mertesacker.

Youngsters Zak Ansah, Sead Hajrovic, Elton Monteiro, Chuba Akpom and James Shea are all in contention to make their senior debuts.

Although the Gunners have already qualified, they still have the carrot of finishing top of Group B if they win and leaders Schalke fail to beat Montpellier.

However, with Arsenal desperately needing to improve their Premier League form and position, a win would help restore the confidence of a side 10th in the table and 15 points adrift of Manchester United.

Speaking on Monday, Wenger said: "Some players need a rest because they are on the fringe of injury and some players are injured.

"Lukas Podolski and Theo Walcott are injured, Jack Wilshere needs a rest and Per Mertesacker has played many games recently."

Podolski left the field during the second half of Arsenal's defeat at the hands of Swansea on Saturday, while Walcott played all 90 minutes at the Emirates.

Wilshere has only just recently returned to the first team after 17 months out through injury.

Wenger, who has been at Arsenal for 16 years, added: "We have one luxury in that we have qualified but we want to win the game and top the group.

"I must try to find the right balance by resting some players and still having a competitive team on Tuesday."

The under-fire Arsenal boss is confident Montpellier will do them a favour with a victory over their German visitors - even though the French side cannot even reach the Europa League.

He added: "I believe we'll top the group if we win."

Arsenal squad: Szczesny, Vermaelen, Rosicky, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Squillaci, Coquelin, Arshavin, Jenkinson, Gervinho, Chamakh, Angha, Ansah, Hajrovic, Meade, Monteiro, Shea, Akpom.


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