Wenger: I wield the axe
Arsenal supremo Arsene Wenger is insistent no player should take his place for granted and that his team selection is judged on a game-by-game basis.
This comes after he risked alienating key first-teamers Wojciech Szczesny and Thomas Vermaelen by leaving them out of the second leg of the Champions League Last 16 tie with Bayern Munich.
Earlier this week, the Frenchman suggested that the 22-year old stopper was feeling the effects of a gruelling campaign so far.
The manager was keen to stress, however, that the Pole is still in his long-term plans- despite speculation linking the Gunners to a move for elite keepers from Jose Reina to Asmir Begovic.
He told the Independent, “He (Szczesny) has played many games since the start of the season and recently I felt that mentally it affected him.”
“That is why I have rested him. It is only his second season in the Premier League. Maybe I should have rested him in the cup competitions but I did not.”
“Of course (he has a long term future).” Wenger added to the Standard,
“Who gave Wojciech a chance from nowhere in the youth teams? It was me. That’s because I rate him highly and have a big respect for what he has done.”
Szczesny has only started 19 of Arsenal’s 28 Premier League matches thus far, but has appeared in all cup competitions for the North London side.
He is said to be unhappy at being dropped for a game of Wednesday’s magnitude, displaying a conceit which has reportedly in turn angered his team-mates.
Up for grabs
Captain Thomas Vermaelen has been linked with a move away from the Emirates after being dropped for the trip to Munich.
However, Wenger has stated he will remain as captain but persists in his meritocratic selection policy.
He continued to the Standard, “Nobody is guaranteed places. All the players are in the same position.”
“Thomas has a fantastic attitude, but when you go into this job, you know you have competition. The last game decides the next one”
“They (Vermaelen & Szczesny) are two outstanding players who are part of our squad.
Arsenal will be looking to build on a stirring second-leg display at the Allianz Arena when they face Swansea City on Saturday and look to progress towards securing a top four place.