Arsene Wenger has vowed to send out an experienced side for Arsenal’s FA Cup clash against Burnley, insisting “you don’t win with kids any more”.
With the Gunners bidding to seal their first Barclays Premier League title since 2004, Wenger may have been tempted to rest a number of his stars.
But the Frenchman, who will become the most successful manager in the history of the FA Cup if Arsenal win the famous tournament this season, is set to field a strong starting XI for the visit of the Championship outfit.
“I will play quite an experienced team,” Wenger said as his side looked to bounce back from last weekend’s 1-0 defeat against Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium.
“First of all, we lost last Sunday and it is important not to drop our confidence level too much. Secondly, we want to do well in the FA Cup and you don’t want to miss an opportunity when you play at home against a Championship team.
“You don’t win with kids any more unfortunately, even against the Championship teams.
“We went to Sheffield Wednesday in the League Cup and got quite a severe defeat so we have to show we have learned from that.”
Petr Cech will be replaced by David Ospina in goal while Francis Coquelin is also in line to make his first start since November after recovering from a knee injury. Alexis Sanchez, who came on as a second-half substitute against Chelsea following a near two-month lay-off, may also play.
Egypt international Mohamed Elneny, who signed for the Gunners earlier this month, is poised to make his debut.
Elneny won three consecutive Swiss championships with Basle and has played against Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United in the Champions League.
“We were the only club interested,” Wenger said of the 23-year-old, who he compared to Aaron Ramsey and Mathieu Flamini. “He was basically not on the radar and not too many people spoke of him.
“We looked at the specific position of the players who have this kind of qualities, we identified him of having the potential to do it and I think we were right, but now he has to show that.”
Wenger added: “He’s not a monster. Usually the middle-eastern people have big stamina, are agile, but lack a bit power sometimes, so he is not a powerhouse, he’s more a mobility player. That is why I think he can suit our game.”
Injured duo Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla are not expected to be back in contention until the middle of March, but Danny Welbeck has recently returned to full training.
Meanwhile, Wenger has confirmed he is set to sign Nigerian duo Kelechi Nwakali, 17 and Samuel Chukwueze, 16.
“Talks are progressing well and it should be done this month, ” Wenger added.