As all the London media directs its attention to Arsenal’s UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie against German giants Bayern Munich scheduled for the upcoming midweek, Wenger has all his attention on the clash against Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup.
Wenger will want to rest some of his stars for the all-important visit of German league leaders Bayern Munich. This could result in Wenger sending out a mix of rather young players, along with some players who haven’t seen that much action during this season. Arsenal begin a crucial time in their season, starting with the visit of Bayern Munich, followed by a trip to Tottenham and then hosting Everton, before jetting out to the Allianz Arena for the return leg against Bayern Munich.
This is a crunch time that can make or break the Gunners’ season. Therefore, Wenger would be hoping to have his entire squad ready at his disposal.
While the attack and midfield look set to be shuffled for the FA Cup visit of Blackburn Rovers, Arsenal are facing a shortage of personnel in defense. The absence of center backs Thomas Vermaelen and Laurent Koscielny and left-back Kieran Gibbs to injuries, plus the recent departure of Brazilian left-back Andre Santos on loan, along with the suspension to young full-back Carl Jenkinson leaves the Gunners really short at the back. It looks like young center-back Ignasi Miquel will be called upon for the cup-tie to play alongside German international Per Mertesacker, and Bacary Sagna and Nacho Monreal are also set to feature at the back. Wenger has been left with no choice but to continue using the first choice defenders until some of the injured players recover.
There is one big decision that the manager has yet to make, which is whether or not to include midfielder Jack Wilshere. The young England international limped off in Arsenal’s 1-0 win at Sunderland last week. However, the 21-year old is back in training with the squad and Wenger faces a tough decision of whether or not to include the influential midfielder in his plans for Blackburn’s visit.
Wilshere has been in excellent form for Arsenal since he made his long awaited return from injury last year. He also put in a Man of the Match performance in England’s 2-1 friendly win over Brazil just over a week ago. The importance of Wilshere to Arsenal this season has been obvious, and Wenger would be desperate to have his young prodigy back to full fitness as soon as possible.
With already plenty to think about ahead of the FA Cup clash against new manager Michael Appleton’s Blackburn Rovers at the Emirates Stadium, Wenger is set to make a late call on whether to include Wilshere in his matchday squad, or to keep him out for both the FA Cup tie and also rest him for the Bayern Munich game.