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By ESPN Staff
Feb 1, 2007

Wenger to stick with young guns in Cardiff

Arsene Wenger believes the youngsters who helped defeat Tottenham and reach the Carling Cup final are the best group he has worked with at Arsenal.

The Frenchman, who has been at the club for more than a decade, picked a mixture of youth and experience as the Gunners defeated their rivals 3-1 after extra-time at the Emirates Stadium.

He is preparing to keep faith with his inexperienced players when they meet Chelsea in Cardiff later this month, rewarding them for their efforts in the competition this season.

'From the back to the forwards you have class, everywhere you have good players,' he said.

Emmanuel Adebayor fired the hosts ahead in the second leg of the semi-final but Mido, who later confirmed he is staying at Spurs, levelled to force extra time.

With the tie poised at 3-3, Arsenal would have gone through on away goal after 120 minutes but victory was sealed with two goals in the extra period.

Jeremie Aliadiere took advantage of a poor clearance by Ricardo Rocha to restore the lead, before Tomas Rocisky's shot hit a post and went in off Pascal Chimbonda.

'It's a sensational feeling to work with them and go through with them,' said Wenger of his youngsters. 'They have a heart and as a manager that is fantastic.'

Although Wenger described the evolution of his current crop taking five years, the most impressive youngster was summer signing Denilson, who looked confident in midfield.

Full-back Armand Traore was eventually carried off with cramp, Theo Walcott threatened on the right flank, while midfielder Abu Diaby continued his comeback from his ankle injury.

'They say life is too easy for young footballers but it is a question of motivation and how much you want it,' added Wenger. 'They've shown they are highly motivated, ready to fight.'

Wenger does not plan to recall players who have not featured in the competition this season which means senior members of the squad such as Thierry Henry may be on the sidelines or the bench against Chelsea.

'I'm very proud of them in the whole competition and they deserve to be involved in the final,' he added.

'We played against Liverpool, Everton, West Brom and Tottenham - why should we get a complex because the colour of the shirt is different?'

Tottenham's own teenager, Aaron Lennon, missed the game through illness and the visitors only had four substitutes has the England winger's name was already on the teamsheet.

'Aaron was in the starting line-up but he felt sick after dinner,' said boss Martin Jol.

'He came back later and felt fine but just before kick-off he felt sick again.'

Jol added: 'It can happen - the only thing with Lennon is he is on fire and could have given us a spark.'

Mido had been linked with a deadline-day move but Jol said: 'There was an opportunity for Mido to leave but I want him to stay so that is the end of it.'