• Premier League

Wenger plays down Szczesny absence

ESPN staff
April 8, 2013
Arsene Wenger remains a big fan of Tomas Rosicky © Getty Images

Arsene Wenger has attempted to brush aside Wojciech Szczesny's absence from the matchday squad at West Brom, insisting he was giving the goalkeeper a mental break.

Szczesny was not even among the substitutes at The Hawthorns as Arsenal won 2-1, with Vito Mannone the chosen deputy to Lukasz Fabianski.

The omission comes during a period that has seen Szczesny lose his starting spot after a poor run of form. Wenger admitted he was not injured for the trip to West Brom, but needed to be protected.

"I rotate the goalkeepers on the bench because when they are two games on the bench then they work for two games, because when they sit always on the bench they lose fitness," Wenger explained.

The Arsenal boss believes he has turned Tomas Rosicky into more of a goal threat by playing him in a central position. The Czech international midfielder had scored once in 65 Premier League games before getting both of Arsenal's goals in Saturday's win at West Brom.

Manager Wenger feels Rosicky is best suited to the role as the most attacking of his three central midfielders and, even though Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere can also play there, feels he has a vital role to play.

"Before he played too far away from the box. Before I played him always wide but he plays more central now and he's more dangerous. I said to him: 'It's a special game for you because you scored two goals.' The most important thing is he scores them when you need them, and we needed them."

It was only Rosicky's second league start of another injury-hit campaign but, despite the difficulty in finding him a place in the team, Wenger remains a fan of the former Dortmund player who he wants to keep at Arsenal for the remainder of his career.

"There is the problem with injury and then there is the problem with competition for a place, with Wilshere and Cazorla, but he's such an important player who turns the game forward, brings movement into the game, makes the game look simple and always you feel when he has the ball that something can happen. Not many players have that in the locker."

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