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By ESPN Staff
Dec 18, 2007

Wenger ready to throw in his Young Guns again

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger maintains the Carling Cup is the perfect platform for his young Gunners to show him just what they are capable of.

The line-up at Ewood Park for tonight's quarter-final against Blackburn is expected to be much changed from the one which battled to Barclays Premier League victory over Chelsea on Sunday.

Wenger, though, has every confidence the fringe players in his squad can continue to do themselves justice as Arsenal seek to reach the final for a second successive season.

'It is a good opportunity for my squad to show how strong the players who didn't play against Chelsea are,' he said. 'The Carling Cup is more of a squad game, because we decided as a squad to go for every single trophy.

'I felt they were hard done by in the final last year, and I would like this team to come back and win the cup.'

Wenger has high hopes.

'My expectation is to qualify and go into the semi-finals, because we want to come back as well as we did last year,' he added. 'I believe in them, and it is good (for the fringe players) to show me 'we knock at the door and we want to play in the first team'.

'We use the competition for our players to grow up - but not only to grow up. It is also to show they are good enough to play in the Champions League and the Premier League.

'I believe as well what is fantastic is to see these players respond under the pressure of Premier League teams, and you can detect who is ready and who is not ready.'

Midfielder Emmanuel Eboue looks set to be sidelined for a couple of weeks after damaging knee ligaments against Chelsea, but forward Theo Walcott could be back in contention after missing the Chelsea game with a slight knee problem.

Young Danish striker Nicklas Bendtner is likely to lead the attack, with Eduardo - who scored twice in the last round - and Polish goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski also set to feature.

Wenger feels the young Pole has settled in well.

'Lukasz is a very impressive goalkeeper with tremendous qualities,' he said. 'I like his intelligence, his physical attributes and his agility - he is a very impressive goalkeeper.

'For me, he does already [challenge for a first-team place] because the other goalkeepers practise with him - and they see how good he is.'

Wenger has still to hear, meanwhile, if he will face another touchline ban in the Champions League.

The Arsenal manager had to watch the Gunners' final Group H match against Steaua Bucharest from the stands, as punishment for confronting the fourth official during the 3-1 defeat by Sevilla.

UEFA have yet to confirm whether that has been extended to the first leg of their last-16 match.

Yesterday, Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard was handed a two-match ban for his dismissal against Lyon on November 27 - the same day as Wenger's offence.