Arsene Wenger maintains Arsenal must not worry about the players they have left behind as the Gunners look to finish their Champions League Group F campaign with victory over Olympiacos in Athens tonight.
With qualification already secured for the knockout stages with one match to spare, Wenger elected to bring a mixed squad out to Greece — as the likes of captain Robin van Persie, Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott and Alex Song all remained in London.
Despite only two of the starting XI from the weekend's Barclays Premier League 4-0 win at Wigan being in a youthful 18-man party which boarded the plane from Luton, Wenger insists Arsenal have not travelled to Greece just to make up the numbers.
“It is not who we left at home, it is who will play who is important. Before you make an early judgement, let's wait to see how our team will do,” Wenger said.
“We have a very strong team, many of the team have played in the first game against Olympiacos, so give the players who turn up some credit, they will produce a good performance.
“We are unbeaten and want to continue our run, and also to be respectful of everybody else in the group. We have a moral responsibility to play to win tomorrow.”
Wenger added: “It is true some players do not play as many games, but they will be even more motivated to show they deserve to play.
“I planned to play this team because I really believed they have given a hard time to Manchester City in the Carling Cup, when many of these players did very well. I just left some players at home because I did not want to put them on the bench, I would rather they had training.”
Midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong has battled his way back to fitness following a serious knee injury and the 19-year-old is relishing another opportunity to stake his claim for a regular first team place.
“This is why you are playing for Arsenal, because you are used to dealing with this kind of stuff,” said Ghana-born Frimpong, who came to England when he was eight and was brought up near Tottenham. “When you are a professional footballer, you want to play in those kind of stadiums and environments.”