Football Football

Wenger: Gunners will chew Toffees

Chuba Akpom (left) celebrates scoring for Arsenal against Singapore XI on July 15. PHOTO/AFP
Chuba Akpom (left) celebrates scoring for Arsenal against Singapore XI on July 15. PHOTO/AFP

SINGAPORE, July 17- Manager Arsene Wenger is expected to field a strong Arsenal squad for the Barclays Asia Trophy final against Everton on Saturday after resting most of his star players for their opening game earlier this week.

The likes of Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey, Mikel Arteta, Theo Walcott, Olivier Giroud and newly-signed goalkeeper Petr Cech all watched from the stands on Wednesday as a fairly youthful Gunners side overpowered a Singapore Select XI 4-0 with teenager Chuba Akpom bagging a hat-trick.

However, the FA Cup holders should be at full strength when they face Premier League rivals Everton in front of what is expected to be a sell-out crowd at the 55,000-capacity National Stadium.

“We have no fringe players, only good players,” said Wenger.

“Some players with less experience played on Wednesday but I came out here to give a game to everyone so those who were not involved in the last game against Singapore will play tomorrow.”

Wenger is expecting a tough outing against an Everton side that finished fifth in the Premier League two seasons ago but slipped to a disappointing 11th in the last campaign after making a slow start. The Toffees beat Stoke City on penalties after a hard-fought goalless draw on Wednesday.

“The first half was very competitive between Everton and Stoke and the challenges were very absolutely full challenges and I expect that from Everton (in the final),” said the Arsenal boss.

“They are coming out of a season where they didn’t do as well as the season before and they will want to start well.”

The Frenchman is looking for his team to build on a solid campaign in 2014-15 although he expects the going to be much tougher for them in the Premier League in the upcoming season.

“It’s our target (to win the Premier League) and we feel we have a chance in a very competitive league,” he said.

“We finished third last year and we won the FA Cup so it shows that we are not far. We have a good cohesive group and I believe that a group that has that quality has the ambition to do better.

“That of course is our target but in our league, it is very difficult to know how good our opponents will be but what is important is to focus on how good we can be and then you have a chance.”

While happy with the squad that he has, the Frenchman has not ruled out the prospect of new signings before the transfer window closes in September.

“We do not rule it out and we do not guarantee there will be no more signings. I am happy with the squad I have but if I find an exceptional talent to strengthen the squad, I will do it.

“However, it’s not easy at the moment because many clubs are out there to buy and the number of players who can strengthen the big teams in Europe is very restricted.”