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Wenger takes heart from Arsenals strength in depth

17 Jan 2014 01:16:55

Wenger takes heart from Arsenals strength in depth

Arsene Wenger is confident his wealth of options in midfield will keep Arsenal at the top of the Premier League.

The Gunners hold a one point lead over second placed Manchester City as they prepare to host Fulham at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

Free-scoring City boast by far the most impressive goal difference in the Premier League and are seen in many quarters as the most likely champions.

But Arsenal have continued to record victories despite long-term injuries to forwards Lukas Podolski, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain at various points of the season.

And that, Gunners boss Wenger believes, is largely down to the quality and variety of his midfield options.

"In midfield we have plenty of quality players who you can rotate easily without really feeling 'today we are weaker'," he said.

"We have fantastic players in midfield and it always allows us to keep what we call the 'engine' of the team fresh.

"It is a real team effort. Maybe because every player in his position has a strong personality as well."

Aaron Ramsey is a strong contender for the player of the season accolades as the Wales captain has contributed 13 goals so far.

Germany playmaker Mesut Ozil has been less consistent but Wenger is nonetheless impressed with his efforts so far.

"He is a first of all a team player," Wenger said. "And also a football servant with the fact that he always does what the game wants and he has a big respect for the game. That's the brand of a real top-level player."

Walcott won't play again this season because of a knee injury but midfielder Tomas Rosicky could feature against Fulham wearing a mask to protect a broken nose suffered in Monday's 2-1 win at Aston Villa.

Left-back Nacho Monreal is a doubt after twisting a ligament in his foot and Thomas Vermaelen (knee), Mikel Arteta (calf), Ramsey (thigh) and Nicklas Bendtner (ankle) are all out injured.

Fulham are one of 11 teams embroiled in a battle to avoid relegation and could slide into the bottom three if they lose at the Emirates Stadium and results elsewhere go against them.

The Cottagers have also been caught up in a row with West Ham over Ravel Morrison, the England Under-21 international.

Fulham coach Rene Meulensteen revealed on Tuesday that a bid had been rejected by the Hammers, adding that he believed the player wanted the move to be completed.

That led to West Ham complaining to the Premier League that Meulensteen had breached ruling T.8 concerning "statements made publicly by or on behalf of a club expressing interest in acquiring the registration of a contract player".

As a result, the Dutchman has been prevented by his club from answering any questions from the media about potential transfers.

"I am not going to make any comments on that because it is going to get me into trouble," he said.

"Things are in hand with the club, with (chief executive) Alistair Mackintosh."

Fernando Amorebieta, Fulham's Venezuela international defender, is doubtful because of a knock.


AFP

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