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Arsene Wenger says he will name a front three consisting of Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud when his Arsenal side take on Red Star Belgrade in their Europa League clash on Thursday (2 November).
Wenger has carefully rotated his squad this season to cope with the demands of their European campaign and to great success so far – with the Gunners winning all three group games to move onto the verge of qualifying for the knockout stages.
A win at the Emirates on Thursday will seal their place in the last 32 but the Arsenal boss will resist the temptation to call upon Alexandre Lacazette, Mesut Ozil or Alexis Sanchez with a trip to Manchester City looming on Sunday. Instead, he will keep faith in the trio thatcombined so brilliantly to seal victory in Belgrade a fortnight ago.
When asked whether Sanchez, Ozil or Lacazette could have a role to play on Thursday, Wenger told a press conference: “No because I have another trio who will play tomorrow night. Walcott, Giroud, Wilshere. I believe they all deserve and want competition because of their quality. If you look at the number of minutes played since the start of the season they are all in competitive shape which is good for us.”
Mathieu Debuchy could be another in contention to start on Thursday. The former Newcastle United defender made his first start for the club in 11 months in the reverse fixture a fortnight ago, with Wenger impressed with his performance in a centre-half role.
“Maybe he has a future as a centre-back,” Wenger said this week. “He has the attributes because, despite his size, he is very good in the air. You think he couldn’t play centre-back because he is not tall, but if you look at the number of balls he wins in the air it is impressive.”