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Wenger defends Wilshere and Oxlade-Chamberlain

David Instone
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Jack Wilshere and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are key to Arsenal and England's future © Getty Images
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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is backing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jack Wilshere to play prominent roles again soon after they took a back seat in Saturday's 0-0 draw at Aston Villa.

Wilshere remained unused as a substitute in the goalless draw at Villa Park while Oxlade-Chamberlain was below his best and taken off 13 minutes from time to be replaced by Andrei Arshavin.

The travelling fans were heard chanting 'You don't know what you're doing' towards the dugout, with the in-form Olivier Giroud also taken off late on. But Wenger is not prepared to concede any ground.

"I have managed for 30 years, including 1,600 matches and 200 in the Champions League, so I must have been a bit lucky!" he said. "Alex has not played a lot recently and lacks a bit but he was dangerous in patches.

"He's a very talented boy who I believe will be a great player. But he's learning his job. He's 19 and there will be ups and downs, so you need patience.

"I'm relieved Jack had no setbacks [after his major ankle injury] but he had some inflammation - a bit of scar tissue - and the rest here will help us get rid of it.

"He has not played for 17 months until recently and people forget what that means. It's massive. It would have been more dangerous in weather like that to bring Jack on. It made sense here not to play him."

Wenger also pointed to the close proximity of the North London derby against Tottenham and the Champions League game against Montpellier last week as being another factor in his thinking at Villa Park, while the Gunners play Everton away on Wednesday.

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