Wenger: Rotation a ‘cheap excuse’ for Zagreb defeat

Date published: Friday 18th September 2015 11:37

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Arsene Wenger insists his squad rotation should not be used as an excuse for Arsenal’s Champions League defeat to Dinamo Zagreb on Wednesday.

The Gunners opened their European campaign with a disappointing 2-1 reverse in Croatia where striker Olivier Giroud was sent off.

Wenger defended his decision to rotate the squad, with goalkeeper Petr Cech on the bench and Aaron Ramsey and Hector Bellerin not travelling to Croatia, insisting the players he did select have to take responsibility for their performances.

Wenger is confident Arsenal can bounce back from the defeat to progress in the Champions League, but for now he is focused on Saturday’s Premier League game against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

“In football you have to forget cheap excuses and focus on what matters on the day, which is the performance on the day,” Wenger said of Tuesday’s defeat. “If you want to make a career at a club without any disappointment, or individual disappointment, it is not possible.

“I believe you can repair what happened. We are on a good run in the Premier League and it is important now to look at that.

“What you expect from these kinds of games is always a high intensity, full commitment and of course you want to prepare for that and play with a full focus.”

Per Mertesacker has returned to training for Arsenal this week, but Wenger is yet to decide whether he will recall the German to the starting line-up against Chelsea.

“Mertesacker should be a bit short,” Wenger said. “We will have to decide [if he plays] tomorrow.”

Wenger, who revealed midfielder Jack Wilshere was set for an operation next week to help heal a hairline fracture in his leg, must also make a decision on whether to retain Giroud in attack, or hand England forward Walcott another chance, following what was a fourth goal in his last three appearances for club and country when coming off the bench in Zagreb.

“I try to use the best solution that gives us the most efficiency offensively,” Wenger added.

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