Fresh Gunners fulfil task as Wenger looks to Reds' visit

Arsenal's Danny Welbeck scoring the only goal of the game past West Ham's Joe Hart at the Emirates Stadium. Manager Arsene Wenger started with a totally changed XI but Olivier Giroud and Francis Coquelin left injured.
Arsenal's Danny Welbeck scoring the only goal of the game past West Ham's Joe Hart at the Emirates Stadium. Manager Arsene Wenger started with a totally changed XI but Olivier Giroud and Francis Coquelin left injured.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Arsenal have bigger fish to fry and the evidence was provided by Arsene Wenger's decision to give the night off to every member of his starting line-up from Saturday's Premier League win over Newcastle.

The Arsenal manager surely has Liverpool on his mind ahead of the league clash at the Emirates Stadium tomorrow.

But once the whistle was blown in this League Cup quarter-final, Wenger wanted to progress just as much as his second-stringers needed to impress.

He got his wish. It was hardly a vintage performance against a West Ham team that offered frustratingly little as an attacking force.

But the 1-0 win, thanks to Danny Welbeck's goal before half-time, was enough.

The blots on the evening were the muscle injuries that forced off Olivier Giroud and Francis Coquelin before the end and Wenger will be painfully aware his team now face 10 matches in all competitions over the next 36 days.

"What is worrying is when you start to lose players. You can't afford to lose another one," the Frenchman said.

"It doesn't look very good for him (Giroud). I think he's out of Friday night. We have to wait. Nowadays you do the scan 48 hours after the injury. That will happen on Thursday, then we'll have a precise kind of grade on what his hamstring is.

"I have to look how I can manage the schedule. When you look at our fixtures in January and February, you cannot imagine we will always play with the same players in every game."

West Ham had arrived with confidence, after taking seven points from an available nine in the league, but there was no single moment when they stretched their hosts.

Arsenal deserved the victory by the fact that they were the only team trying to make the game.

It was a scruffy goal, entirely in keeping with the spectacle. But Wenger thought otherwise.

"I felt we played with quality and spirit and pace in the first half," he said. "For 90 minutes we looked solid defensively. Overall it's a positive night, other than we lost Olivier Giroud."

Meanwhile, former Arsenal star Tomas Rosicky has announced his retirement from Sparta Prague at age 37. The winger played 170 games for the Gunners and scored 19 goals in 10 seasons for the club after he joined in 2006.

THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 21, 2017, with the headline 'Fresh Gunners fulfil task as Wenger looks to Reds' visit'. Print Edition | Subscribe