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Apr 5, 2014

Arsene Wenger hails Ross Barkley

Arsene Wenger has hailed young Everton playmaker Ross Barkley as "one of the best I have seen", a day before his Arsenal side travel to face the Toffees at Goodison Park.

Ross Barkley has driven Everton's surge toward a top-four spot this season.

Arsenal-Everton: 50-50 challenge

Barkley's impressive displays have seen him stake a claim for a place in England's World Cup squad, and Wenger said the 20-year-old "has a made a big step forward".

"From a young hope, he has suddenly convinced everybody he has a huge potential and talent and can have huge impact in big games, with a combination of technical qualities and power, which are very difficult to combine in midfield, and what is demanded from a modern midfielder," Wenger said.

"For me, he has had a big impact this season. He is one of the best I have seen."

Wenger, though, warned against expecting too much from the 20-year-old in Brazil this summer if he is given a chance by Roy Hodgson.

"It is good he is not guaranteed a World Cup place, because, at the World Cup, experience of big games is important, in terms of the number of games you have behind you," he said.

"You can't travel to a World Cup with too many players of that calibre.

"When you go into a game you need to know that you get at least a certain quality, and a certain quality is guaranteed by the experience of the player of big games.

"You can take one or two and take a gamble. You cannot take five or six like that. Fortunately, it is not my job, and I only have a global view of the squad available."

Arsenal can take a grip on their place in the top four with victory over fifth-placed Everton, which would give them a boost ahead of next weekend's FA Cup semifinal against Wigan at Wembley.

Wenger, though, stressed he was not yet about to put one competition above the other.

"You cannot ask me now that we are in the semi-final of the FA Cup if I want to give up the FA Cup, to be in the top four. We want to achieve the two. There's no need to choose," the Arsenal manager said.

"We have the opportunity to do both, and we have to take that as a challenge."

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