Wenger defends Arsenal rest period

Arsene Wenger has responded angrily to suggestions he was wrong to allow some Arsenal players time off this week, ESPN has reported.

The Gunners squad were given two days off this week and a number of them left England altogether. At a press conference, Wenger was asked if it was right to let Mesut Ozil in particular out of training after his recent poor form.

Arsenal’s record signing Ozil didn’t play against Sunderland last weekend but Wenger has indicated he will return against Stoke City on Saturday.

“Ozil had a difficult game [against Bayern Munich] because he missed that penalty,” Wenger said. “It was on his mind and when you are under this kind of pressure, it’s good to refresh.

“It’s not necessarily fatigue,” the manager continued. “We have played since the beginning of December, I do not have to justify here why [players] had two days off.

“We are in a society where everyone wants to control everything. I don’t understand this question at all. We are entitled to have days off.”

Wenger suggested that injuries dictate Thomas Vermaelen will return to the side at left-back for the game at the Britannia Stadium.

“We went to Stoke before when they had a rough style and we had a very young team so it was difficult, but they have always had good players at Stoke,” Wenger said.

“We had some bad memories and some good memories there. It is a stadium where before the pitch was narrow and difficult to play.

“It’s a big game for us. At the weekend, we have to focus and get the three points. We did it against Sunderland who are a tricky team, but we want to do it again against Stoke. We are in a period where you have to move forward.

“I will put the best team out to win the game. It’s not about individuals, it’s about the team. If needed, Thomas can play there. It’s not his preferred position, but we still have some time to make the decision.”

Arsenal are currently second in the Premier League, a point behind Chelsea and two clear of Manchester City with 11 games to play – although City have a game in hand.

See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Stoke v Arsenal

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