Arsenal boss to call on 'squad players' for Cup clash

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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger feels he has little option but to make the best use of his battle-weary squad for the FA Cup trip to Stoke on Sunday.

Midfielder Abou Diaby is set for a spell on the sidelines with a calf injury sustained against Bolton on Wednesday while full-back Bacary Sagna is another who needs to be rested because of a shoulder problem as Wenger looks to protect some of his key men.

"I will assess the situation on Friday and Saturday, but we will certainly make use of the squad," said Wenger. "We have lost no-one else from Bolton, but some have played on the fringe like Bacary Sagna, who has a bad shoulder. He will absolutely need to be rested."

Wenger revealed Diaby's injury was not too severe, saying: "He is out for Stoke and certainly for the Villa game. There is hope he might be back for Manchester United, but we don't know yet."

The Gunners head to the Britannia Stadium having gone top of the Barclays Premier League, albeit only on goal difference, following the 4-2 win over Wanderers at Emirates Stadium.

The next time Arsenal resume league action, it will be the start of a crucial phase of the season. First up will be a trip to top-six hopefuls and Carling Cup finalists Aston Villa on January 27, with the small matter of the visit of Manchester United four days later.

The following weekend will see Arsenal at Chelsea, before hosting Liverpool on February 10 ahead of the Champions League last-16 clash against Porto.

Wenger said: "After these games, it (title hopes) depends whether you are top of the league on goal difference or if you are 12 points ahead of the second team.

"We are in a fight where we are at the top of the league at the moment.

"The real difference is made with the teams you fight against (for the title). Those games have mathematically a much bigger impact on the table than like against Bolton."

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