Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says he is ready to start England U-21 defender Calum Chambers despite the nightmare the youngster had last week against Liverpool while filling in for the injured Per Mertesacker.
With normal centre-half pair Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny were both still out injured for today’s match against Newcastle at St James Park, the Gunners boss says he is prepared to start both Chambers and Gabriel again at the heart of Arsenal defence.
Speaking of 20-year-old Chamber’s performance in the 0-0 draw with Liverpool, Wenger said: “He showed character. The positive of the night – he did not have the best performance in the first half – was the way he recovered.
“He showed his mental strength.
“He has lost a bit of confidence, compared to the player he was last year. Maybe it’s through not playing too much, the Under-21 tournament [with England this summer] did not help him too much, as he did not play at all.
“I have spoken to him and he’s a strong footballer, a dedicated player who is ready to work day and night. He has the talent to be a good player.”
Wenger goes on to say that he nearly substituted him at half-time, but instead kept with him while also criticising other players for not giving him the support.
“I don’t think it would have killed him [to replace him],” said Wenger. “I did not sub him as I wanted to save my offensive options. It also gives him time to recover. But we wanted to win the game. He recovered quite well in the second half.
“We want to play out from the back, so the players go into the game and do that.
“Once they lose the ball, they think they have to continue to play out from the back. But the more experienced player’s maybe should have said, ‘You can see that he is having trouble. Let’s push forward, so he can kick the ball into the opponent’s half, and play off Giroud.’
“That is what I told them to do.
“By the time they realised that on the pitch we were already in trouble — it was unbelievable on the night that the game finished 0-0.”