Arsene Wenger has suggested Arsenal could play a full-strength side in Tuesday’s Champions League tie in Basel, despite only having an outside chance of topping their group.
With current group leaders Paris Saint-Germain at home to Ludogorets Razgrad, Arsenal need to hope for a surprise at the Parc des Princes to have a chance of finishing first.
However, while Arsenal’s place in the round of 16 is already secure and they are also pressing for the Premier League title, Wenger said he was not planning to rest his key stars.
“Sometimes I think that when a guy is doing well, it’s sometimes more dangerous to stop him than keep him playing,” Wenger told media at Basel’s St. Jakob-Park. “I haven’t decided on my team yet, I have another 24 hours to decide on that, but my main goal is to win the game.”
Wenger confirmed France forward Olivier Giroud is in the squad that has travelled to Switzerland, though midfielder Francois Coquelin misses out through suspension.
Should Arsenal fail to better PSG’s result, they will finish second, and potentially face a tougher test than their French counterparts in the knockout stages.
However, with Manchester City, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich among the teams currently in the runners-up spots in their sections, Wenger said he will not be overly concerned should his squad fail to overhaul the Ligue 1 champions.
“Not really, no,” Wenger replied when asked whether it was a disadvantage to finish second in the group. “We’ll see what happens with the final results, but it looks quite even.
“The advantage of finishing first is that you play the second leg at home, and in the case of extra time, you play an extra 30 minutes at home. But PSG are favourites to win against Ludogorets.”