Arsene Wenger has confirmed that he’ll field an experienced starting XI on Thursday night.
Wenger has reiterated that he’ll be putting out an experienced team with a young bench against BATE Borisov in the Europa League on Thursday night.
“I said on Monday that I would play an experienced team with a young bench – that’s what I’ll do,” Wenger said.
“We have a tight schedule. It’s an important game, only one or two young players will start.”
He added, “It’s a good test for the young players. They will have to cope with that intimidating atmosphere. It will be very loud.”
A few youth players, including Chuba Akpom, and 18-year-old Charlie Gilmour and Vlad Dragomir, have traveled to Belarus for the European clash so having a young bench to rotate into the line-up will be useful.
I do wonder, however, if Wenger’s idea of experienced is just having older players in the team. For example, Per Mertesacker, who sat alongside him during his presser and Theo Walcott, rather than first team regulars.
During Arsenal’s last Europa League game, the boss fielded a mixture, with Ainsley Maitland-Niles in the squad as well as Alexis Sanchez, so it’s likely that we’ll see a similar team on Thursday night.
Speaking about the younger players who may get a run out, Per praised the likes of Maitland-Niles who have a great chance to gain Europa experience while representing their club.
“We see a lot of young players training with us. The have a good future here. To get an opportunity to play is big for a young group,” said the skipper.
“It’s a really good test to see who is willing to learn.
“Ainsley is a prospect, but there is a lot of hard work to come.”
Players who won’t be involved are Santi Cazorla (ankle), Francis Coquelin (hamstring), Danny Welbeck (groin), Calum Chambers (hip) and Alex Iwobi (thigh) who are all out injured.