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Saturday 10 December 2016

Wenger: Reds to roll out big guns

Arsenal boss insists Liverpool players 'always heal when they play us'

Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey in action against Sunderland’s DeAndre Yedlin during their FA Cup third round match at the Emirates last Saturday.
Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey in action against Sunderland’s DeAndre Yedlin during their FA Cup third round match at the Emirates last Saturday.

Arsene Wenger expects several of Liverpool's big names to return in time for Arsenal's Premier League trip to Anfield on Wednesday.

The Reds face an FA Cup third-round replay against League Two Exeter after Jurgen Klopp's much-changed and inexperienced side was held to a 2-2 draw at St James Park.

Klopp insisted he had no option but to play a youthful team as injuries continue to decimate his squad - but Wenger, whose league leaders made five changes for their 3-1 cup win over Sunderland - reckons Liverpool's teamsheet on Wednesday will be much more familiar.

When asked if he expected some of Liverpool's biggest names to return, Wenger replied: "Yes, don't worry, Arsene is a very good doctor - they always heal when they play against us!

"The team who played on Friday night is not the team who will play against us. They had many injures and I think they didn't want more injuries before an important week."

Many Premier League clubs made several alterations for their respective FA Cup third-round ties, but Wenger insists you cannot be considered a "big club" if you are not willing to try and win every tournament you enter.

"You can not say 'we are a big club' and not go for competitions," he said.

"That is for me impossible. I've seen here Bayern go for the cup every year, Barcelona or Real Madrid go for the cup every year. Why? Because they are big clubs. You can't say 'we move out of a cup competition, a national cup'."

With an ongoing title tilt and a Champions League clash with Barcelona on the horizon, Wenger feels keeping the momentum in one competition can help in the others - even if it leads to tired legs.

"It has positive impact and negative impact," he added.

"Once you're on a roll, you can rotate, if you have no injuries. Everybody is mentally focused to pull in the same direction.

"It's easier to keep everybody on board because you have always the next competition, and everybody thinks I have a chance to play. That is the positive and negative is he fatigue factor, the injuries at the end of the season."

Meanwhile, Hector Bellerin believes Arsenal's strength in depth means they can chase a third successive FA Cup win and Premier League glory.

Full-back Bellerin, who set up goals for Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud in an impressive display, feels there is enough quality in the Arsenal squad to fight on more than one front.

"That is the goal of the whole team," he said when asked about winning a third straight FA Cup.

"We love this competition and the fans love this competition so we need to try and do our best. We are trying to get the third in a row. The legs are fine and we have shown that we have very good players on the bench also and the rotation helps us get good results.

"We have a lot of games and they are all hard games, but we have to respond in the way we did today and I'm sure we will be fine. The team was up to the challenge. We didn't rush the games and we knew we had to be patient. It is nice to get the three goals and that is confidence for the team as we had a difficult week ahead."

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