Wenger hands stars break, lashes at critics

Arsene Wenger has hit out at being forced to justify handing his Arsenal stars two days' rest this week.

Wenger

The Arsenal manager branded criticism of his decision "unbelievable" ahead of his side's Barclays Premier League trip to Stoke on Saturday.

Wenger revealed Mesut Ozil will be fit to return after hip trouble for the weekend's Potters clash, with Thomas Vermaelen also expected to be available.

Wenger said German playmaker Ozil is now ready to shrug off his costly penalty miss in Arsenal's 2-0 Champions League loss to Bayern Munich.

"It's not necessarily fatigue, I don't see why that's suddenly a problem," said Wenger when questioned on the impromptu rest period he handed his squad this week.

"We have played without a break since December, we don't have to justify that, it's unbelievable.

"We are in a society where everyone wants to control everything; I don't understand this at all.

"We are entitled to do unusual things. We came out of a heavy schedule. We had two days off, that's all.

"Sometimes it's not only physical, it's mental, you're under pressure all the time, there's nothing unusual there."

Admitting he is still weighing up whether to employ Vermaelen at left back to cover other absentees, Wenger backed Ozil to shrug off recent struggles with the Premier League's relentless intensity.

"He (Ozil) had a difficult game because he missed that penalty, and it was on his mind," said Wenger.

"Sometimes when you're under this kind of pressure it's good to refresh.

"My opportunity is just to put the best team out who can win the game, it's not about individuals, it's about the team.

"If needed Thomas can play there (at left back), it's not his preferred position.

"He's been out for a long time but I still have 48 hours to make that decision."



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