Arsenal face back to back clashes with Southampton
- Credit: PA
Arsenal turn their attentions to the FA Cup where they will look to build on their recent fortunes and continue their bid to retain the prestigious cup.
The Gunners will make the trip to St Mary’s Stadium on Saturday for a fourth round cup tie against Ralph Hasenhuttl's men after their opponents bagged a 2-0 win over Shrewsbury Town on Tuesday evening to seal their progress.
Manager Mikel Arteta and his men will then also face the Saints in the Premier League on Tuesday evening which could provide for an interesting contest considering the two games will be played in such close proximity.
The Emirates Stadium outfit will no doubt have to rotate slightly for each of these fixtures but at present two of the first names on the team sheet are youngster Emile Smith-Rowe and Bukayo Saka who have taken the places of Willian and Nicolas Pepe in recent weeks.
“It's never an easy decision [to leave senior players out] because we're talking about big players.
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“But at the end, I have to manage the football players who have moments in their career and in their season and to be fair, when someone is performing it doesn't matter what his profile or his age is. I think they deserve to play.
“They were really good again tonight (Monday) and I am really pleased with what they are bringing to the team.”
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The boss knows every single one of his players wants to play therefore they must take their opportunities when handed to them.
“The players that don't play are obviously never happy but what we ask them to do is to try to improve, to keep pushing everybody and when they have their opportunities to show that they're better than the ones that are playing and that we are wrong with our decisions.
“To be fair, everybody is training hard, everybody is trying to contribute and the ones that are not playing, their attitude and behaviour has been so far, so good.”
One youngster struggling for regular minutes is Ainsley Maitland Niles so far this campaign.
“He needs to compete for his place like everybody else. There have been a lot of players who have been left out of the squad and they have less minutes.
“Ainsley has played some minutes in the league, he’s played a lot of minutes in the Europa League.
“He’s played in the Emirates FA Cup, he’s played semi-finals and finals for us so it’s about him, his performances and how much he wants to be in the team.”