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Wenger defends team selection

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has defended his decision to rest key players in Saturday’s 1-0 FA Cup defeat to Blackburn.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has defended his decision to rest key players in Saturday’s 1-0 FA Cup defeat to Blackburn.

The Frenchman opted to name a weakened starting line-up for the game at the Emirates Stadium as Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott watched on from the substitutes bench, with a Champions League last-16 first-leg clash with Bayern Munich approaching on Tuesday.

Club legend Ian Wright laid the blame solely at Wenger’s feet, claiming an unnecessary focus on a fourth-place finish in the Premier League yet again affected a chance for silverware – but Wenger has hit back at suggestions that his selection was to blame.

“We had 11 international players on the pitch at the start of the game,” he told reporters.

“We made a massive mistake on [Blackburn's] goal… we were really guilty on the goal. We were not good enough today to win the game, it’s as simple as that.”

Blackburn boss Michael Appleton insisted that their tactics were in place to simply allow the Gunners possession and force them out wide, but that his side take pride in their organisation and defending.

“We’re quite happy with [allowing opposition to have more possession],” Appleton told reporters.

“You don’t win games of football without being organised… [and we] take pride in keeping clean sheets and enjoy defending.

“We try to show teams down the outside and defend crosses.”

Sat 16 February, 2013
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