Arsene Wenger has come out in defence of Thomas Vermaelen and Wojciech Szczesny as speculation mounts over their Arsenal futures.
The Gunners manager’s decision to drop his captain and number one goalkeeper for the clash with Bayern Munich on Wednesday was followed by reports he would sell them.
However, the Frenchman was full of praise for both Vermaelen and Szczesny in the press conference held before his team’s trip to Swansea City on Saturday.
Szczesny was left at home for the trip after struggling with his form in recent weeks and Wenger before the game claimed he was struggling mentally.
Wenger gave no suggestion, however, that the Poland international’s Arsenal future was in doubt when asked about it.
“Who gave Wojciech a chance from nowhere in the youth teams? It was me because I rate him highly and have a big respect for what he has done,” he told reporters.
“But we all have ups and down physically and mentally and he has played many, many games this season.
“Maybe I should have rested him in the cup games but I did not do that. It is normal that you have ups and downs. He is a young goalkeeper.”
Wenger’s attitude was much the same when speaking of his skipper – another that has struggled with his form this season – though insisted rotation is something he must deal with.
“Thomas Vermaelen has played many games in many positions and is a very important player in our squad,” he added.
“They know there might be rotation with the three centre-backs – Vermaelen, Koscielny and Mertesacker.”
“All the players are in the same position: nobody is guaranteed a place in the team. When you go into this job, you know you have competition.
“Everybody faces the same competition and the players who have come in have been on the bench for a long, long time.
“They all have the same problem. The job of being a top-level competitor is to deal with that.
“Every position is up for grabs. You have to face it like that. The last game decides the next one.”
Arsenal put in a much improved showing in their 2-0 win over Bayern Munich in Germany but still exited the Champions League on away goals due to the abysmal 3-1 defeat in the home leg.
Most notable was the way the Gunners defence dealt with the Bavarians’ considerable attacking threat and the performance of Lukasz Fabianski behind them.
It will give Wenger a selection conundrum ahead of the Swansea clash, which is a game he admitted his team must win at all costs.