Wenger to stick with Almunia
By Mark Kendall
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Arsene Wenger has confirmed that Manuel Almunia will start against Rosenborg.Arsene Wenger has confirmed that Manuel Almunia will start against Rosenborg in Arsenal's must-win UEFA Champions League game on Tuesday.
The Spaniard was preferred to Jens Lehmann for Saturday's league clash with Birmingham, but was not completely convincing despite the 3-0 scoreline.
It was suggested that Wenger would, once again, turn to Lehmann for the crucial tie with Rosenborg which threatens to make or break The Gunners' season even at this early stage.
However, the Frenchman has revealed he intends to give Almunia a run in the side following his promotion.
"You know who will play. You don't think I would take out one goalkeeper for just one game, do you?," he told reporters.
"I don't do that. I have to give him a run for a few games. It's just that I don't want to make this story bigger than it is.
"If you look at my career, you will see that I have left many big players out for a long time.
"I've done it with Dennis Bergkamp, Kanu, everybody.
"It's because it's a goalkeeper, that's all. It's a usual situation for me. You put your best team out, no matter who it is.
"For me, it was not a big mistake at Old Trafford and I wasn't alarmed by what happened against Birmingham either.
"It's nothing against Lehmann. I think he's a great keeper, as is Almunia. You can only play one of them.
"These people are not robots - they have good periods and no so good periods.
"Just because Lehmann doesn't play for two or three weeks, or longer or shorter, it doesn't mean I've lost faith in him."
Lehmann admitted he did not expect the axe last weekend and is still coming to terms with the decision.
The German custodian insists that he has nothing to reproach himself for in his performances over the past few weeks.
"Arsene said I did not look the freshest to him," he explained. "That's it.
"To be honest, I was surprised at the decision to drop me. I don't know yet how I am going to take it.
"I knew all along that if you have two or three bad games in the Premiership, you're out.
"But except for my mistake in Athens, I haven't had anything to blame myself for."
Wenger also revealed that Justin Hoyte and Mathieu Flamini would replace Lauren and Patrick Vieira who are both suspended following their red cards against PSV Eindhoven two weeks ago.