Wenger vows to respect minnows Bradford
BRADFORD, United Kingdom (AFP) –
Arsene Wenger insists he won’t make widespread changes for Arsenal’s League Cup quarter-final at Bradford City as the competition represents a golden opportunity to end the Gunners’ trophy drought.
Wenger’s club have gone over seven years without silverware and, having been drawn against League Two opponents in the last eight, they are strong favourites to progress to the last four.
In the circumstances, the Arsenal boss, already under-fire following a poor run of results in the Premier League, has no intention of risking more criticism and a potential upset by making a host of changes to the side that beat West Bromwich Albion 2-0 on Saturday.
French right-back Bacary Sagna will miss out with an ankle injury, but Wenger claims he will field a strong team at Valley Parade on Tuesday.
“Sagna has played today with a very bad ankle,” Wenger said. “He is such a tough boy that he said he could play.
“He will be rested on Tuesday, maybe one or two more. But we will go with a strong squad, we are in the quarter-final and we have an opportunity to go through. We want to take it.”
Carl Jenkinson is expected to step in for Sagna while Jack Wilshere may be rested as Wenger manages the midfielder’s rehabilitation following a 17-month absence with injury.
“He is getting closer to the player we know he is and against West Brom I think he made a big step,” Wenger said.
“You could see it already this week in training, that he has gained a little burst again, a little zip in the first three or four yards.
“That’s what you have to accept in football, you have sometimes to be patient. He can only gain it by playing but of course in the first games you cannot be at that level.”
The victory over West Brom ended a run of four games without a win and silenced some of the growing criticism of Wenger and his failure to strengthen the squad more, despite having transfer funds available.
A shock defeat to Bradford, who lie fourth in League Two and come into the game on the back of a 1-0 victory over Torquay, would trigger more frustration among Arsenal supporters, some of whom have become increasingly vocal in their demands for change in recent weeks.
Bradford will not lack motivation for the tie and striker Alan Connell, a boyhood Arsenal fan said: “It’s a massive game for the club and reward for the supporters who have stuck by us for last few years when we have struggled compared to 10 years ago when Bradford were in the Premier League.
“I’m really looking forward to game. All my family are still Arsenal supporters and I still go to games when I can.”