News ID: 175207
Published: 0800 GMT January 06, 2017

Wenger: FA Cup a ‘big priority’ for Arsenal

Wenger: FA Cup a ‘big priority’ for Arsenal

Arsene Wenger insisted the FA Cup is a "big priority" for Arsenal this season as he looks set to buck the growing trend by naming a strong side at Preston today.

Many Premier League clubs are likely to make drastic alterations to their starting lineups for their respective third-round ties as they look to manage fixture congestion and keep fringe players happy, skysports.com reported.

However, Wenger, who has won the competition a record-equaling sixth time, is planning to make only a couple of notable changes to his strongest side for the trip to Deepdale.

"It is a big priority for us," he said of the FA Cup.

"We have shown historically that we care about it, and it is a massive competition for everybody. To win the FA Cup is always a target each year.

"We know as well that after a congested Christmas period that the third round is always a tricky game and that is why I believe it is a mental challenge for the Premier League teams to prepare well and not have a bad surprise — especially when you go to a Championship team, it is always difficult.

"It's a special occasion, a special trophy and in every single country, everybody dies to win the cup. I believe it's still the same in England.

"Maybe in the past it was even more important because the European Cup wasn't as important, but it's a special occasion for me."

Arsenal is currently without a host of first-team players as Kieran Gibbs, Per Mertesacker, Santi Cazorla and Francis Coquelin all miss the trip to the north-west through injury.

Add to that doubts over the fitness of Mesut Ozil, Theo Walcott and Lucas Perez, as well as Mohamed Elneny being away at the African Cup of Nations, and Wenger's options become limited.

But, other than announcing he is set to rest goalkeeper Petr Cech, defender Laurent Koscielny and forward Alexis Sanchez, the Frenchman is keen to name a strong side against Simon Grayson's men.

"I will take my first-choice team," insisted Wenger.

"At the moment, (goalkeeper) David Ospina will start and he plays in the Champions League. Maybe two or three players will be rested.

"We will play with 90 percent of the squad, I will rest Koscielny because he came off (at Bournemouth) with two problems in his thigh, of course Ospina will play, Alexis I will rest certainly, but the rest will play."

   
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Resource: skysports.com
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