Arsene Wenger says few Arsenal youngsters will start against BATE Borisov
By Mark Crellin
Last Updated: 28/09/17 8:22am
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says he will pick an experienced team for Thursday night's Europe League tie at BATE Borisov.
The Gunners have travelled to Belarus without a host of big names but Wenger says that, while he expects to field a youthful bench, "only one or two" youngsters will start the match.
Arsenal beat Cologne 3-1 in their group opener at the Emirates a fortnight ago but a changed line-up will be in action on Thursday, with a Premier League game against Brighton to follow on Sunday.
Wenger is understood to have travelled without Laurent Koscielny, Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, Granit Xhaka, Alexandre Lacazette, Sead Kolasinac, Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal.
Injuries to Alex Iwobi, Santi Cazorla, Francis Coquelin, Calum Chambers and Danny Welbeck have further limited his options.
In their absences the senior players include Per Mertesacker, Jack Wilshere, Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott, meaning the promising Ainsley Maitland-Niles is among those likely to feature, and the manager said: "This is the kind of job: you do not get 10 opportunities to play for Arsenal.
"Even if they only get 20 minutes, you have to convince people you have the qualities to do it and the courage to play and show your qualities.
"We see in training that the player has quality. He is here because he has the qualities. After, to show it during competition is something different, and you only discover that during the competition.
"I said on Monday night after the (2-0 defeat of West Brom) that I would play an experienced team with a young bench. We have a very tight schedule and it is an important game, and that's why there is only one or two young players who will start."
Maitland-Niles has impressed in training for Arsenal this season and Wenger says he has earned playing time.
Wenger said: "His best position is central defensive midfielder. He has great quality, he can steal the ball without making fouls. I believe he is ready to play.
"He has a great future."
Sky Sports Fantasy Football
Pick your team for free, create a league to invite your mate and let the managerial mind games begin!