Arsene Wenger has always used domestic cup games to rotate his squad and give some valuable game time to some of the Arsenal fringe players and the young Gunners coming through the academy. And with the Gunners coming off a three game winless streak and facing a tough match against a Southampton side that has already beaten us a few days after the FA cup clash, many of us thought he might make even more changes than usual for Burnley tomorrow.
But in his pre-match press conference reported by Arsenal.com the Frenchman suggested that the opposite would be the case. And the reason behind his thinking is not just that he wants Arsenal to progress another step in our defence of the FA cup and get closer to that formidable three in a row record, but because he feels that we need to get back to winning ways as soon as possible.
Wenger admitted that the points total from January has not been good enough and so he clearly feels that getting back in the habit of winning tomorrow against Burnley is possibly more important than keeping his first choice players as fresh as possible. So although he said there will be some changes the boss said there would not be many, especially as he sees Burnley as being like a Premier League team.
Wenger said, “I saw them on Monday night beat Derby 4-1 and I realised when I watched them that all their players played in the Premier League, we played against most of them.
“They have Gray up front who is very efficient, they have other players like Barton, Arfield, Boyd – they have all played in the Premier League.
“They have Vokes up front with Gray, they have good players. We know that we have learnt in the Premier League that the teams who have come up from the Championship, it is not like 10 years ago – they compete at the right level.
“We have learnt something this season, we went to Sheffield Wednesday in the League Cup and got quite a severe defeat. We have to show we have learnt from that.
“We have to be humble enough to accept that and to think it’s not because we turn up at the Emirates and play against Burnley that we will win the game.
“We have to earn the right to go through this round and qualify. If you don’t do that, we’ll have a bad surprise.”
But our next EPL opponents will be coming to north London after more than a week without a game, so when next Tuesday arrives will Wenger regret playing a strong side tomorrow?