Everyone is up in arms because we lost a pre-season friendly in a stadium in China at 35 degrees celcius of heat, not to mention the humidity. These conditions are not even remotely similar to the conditions Arsenal will have when we play back in England. Not only that but Antonio Conte played a full first team, while Wenger preferred to give some youngsters the chance to learn from the inconsequential match.
As Wenger said on Arsenal.com: “I played some boys with a lack of experience in unusual positions to see how they can cope with it,”
“Chelsea went for a regular team from the start on and I had a mix in one half and in the second half. We paid a little bit for it, but despite that, it was not all negative.
“We had some very good moments in the game as well, but we couldn’t score. Overall, I think there were lots of positives in the game. We lacked a bit of experience in decisive positions.
“They [the younger players] learned that every ball at that level is important. You cannot be at 95 per cent in these kind of games.
“You have to be completely 100 per cent committed and they paid for every mistake. The pace of the game was much higher than they are used to. They will go home with plenty of things to think about and hopefully they will learn quickly from it.
“As well, I must say there were a lot of positives from some young players. They have shown personality, quality and that they have a good chance at that level.”
Besides giving the youngsters a chance, he felt that overall the performance was encouraging and the scoreline does not worry him so much, especially as we played a massive game against Bayern Munich just three days previously. “I think it was a game of a good level where we finally lost well. It was a bit of a combination for us, I think it was a good opportunity for me to see players at that level who have no experience. I tried to play two teams with a mixture of regular players and young players. Of course you could see that we were a bit less mature than Chelsea. Also it was the last day of our tour, it was quite long and we looked a bit jaded tonight.”
And does he think that the players will be affected by the heat and humidity when they get home? “I think the impact is small. We are a bit tired because we worked hard. Overall, we fly back tonight and we recover. It is normal that the players are a bit tired after two weeks of intense preparation. This week we had two intense games as well but for us it’s better than playing weaker teams. We had two big teams to play and it’s good to see the potential of everybody in these kinds of games.”
So come on Arsenal fans, give Wenger a break! He has taken some youngsters away (while many of our best players stayed at home) and he has given them the opportunity to play against big teams in front of massive crowds. This can only be good for their development. Obviously he is not going to experiment when there are real points and trophies at stake. Surely he has done the right thing?