Arsenal boss Wenger considering shock Zelalem pick for Tottenham FA Cup tie

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger could spring a surprise in the team he names to take on Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup on Saturday, the Daily Telegraph has reported, by handing 16-year-old Gedion Zelalem his debut.

Zelalem, a midfielder, has twice been on the Gunners’ bench this season – against Spurs and Fulham – but a two month injury-enforced spell on the sidelines hindered his progress. But fit again, Zelalem, who does not turn 17 until January 26, is in contention due both to his performances for Arsenal’s Under-21 side and Wenger’s problems in midfield.

Arsenal will be without Aaron Ramsey for the north London derby and may not be able to call on Mesut Ozil either, while the game will come too soon for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Jack Wilshere could also sit out the fixture after playing against both Newcastle United and Cardiff City. That leaves Zelelem – rated as highly as Cesc Fabregas among the Arsenal hierarchy, according to the newspaper – with a route to his first senior appearance.

Zelalem is of Ethiopian descent but has played youth football for Germany, having been spotted by Arsenal scout and former player Daniel Karbassiyoon after moving to the United States in 2006.

The FA Cup is the last trophy Arsenal won, beating Manchester United on penalties in 2005. Wenger’s side are currently top of the Premier League table, a point clear of Manchester City, with Tottenham in sixth, eight points adrift of Arsenal. The game will be Tim Sherwood’s first derby as Spurs Head Coach.

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