Wenger: Arsenal midfield engine going strong

Manager Arsene Wenger feels Arsenal's rotating midfield "engine" is showing no signs of fatigue as the Gunners look to last the distance in the title race.

Arsenal's Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey

Arsenal will be out to consolidate their place at the top of the Barclays Premier League when they host relegation battlers Fulham on Saturday.

The Gunners fought their way to an impressive win at Aston Villa on Monday night to reclaim a one-point lead over Manchester City.

With the likes of Serge Gnabry and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain able to offset the loss of Theo Walcott to a serious knee injury and Mathieu Flamini coming in for the injured Mikel Arteta against Villa, Wenger feels there are plenty of options at the heartbeat of the side.

"In midfield we have plenty of quality players who you can rotate easily without really feeling, 'today we are weaker'," Wenger said.

"We have fantastic players in midfield and it always allows us to keep what we call the engine of the team fresh.

"It is a real team effort. Maybe because every player in his position has a strong personality as well - you have that feeling.

"I would say purely on the football front it's true that we only have excellent players in every position and that allows you to have different types of teams that can really be efficient."

Czech midfielder Thomas Rosicky could play in a protective mask after surgery to correct a broken nose suffered when he was caught by a stray elbow from Gabriel Agbonlahor, although full-back Nacho Monreal is a major doubt after twisting a ligament in his foot.

Captain Thomas Vermaelen (knee) is also sidelined, along with midfield duo Arteta (calf) and Aaron Ramsey (thigh). Striker Nicklas Bendtner could return from his ankle injury in the FA Cup tie against Coventry next Friday night.

Wenger, meanwhile, feels Walcott should be "very positive" of making a full recovery from his knee setback.

The 24-year-old is set to be sidelined for six months after suffering anterior cruciate ligament damage in the FA Cup third-round win over Tottenham, which shattered his World Cup dream.

Wenger revealed the operation had gone "very well" but said: "The damage was real in the knee so he will have to take the needed time, so let's not be hopeful that he will go to the World Cup.

"That is not possible, but overall his long-term future is very positive. It is about being fit for next season now."

Following the injury to Walcott, Arsenal are expected to move for some offensive cover during the transfer window.

Auxerre forward Paul-Georges Ntep has been touted as a potential target, along with Schalke's German forward Julian Draxler, who is said to have a £37million buy-out clause.

Nottingham Forest's 20-year-old defender Jamaal Lascelles is another reported target.



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