Wenger asks for faith as he prepares to shuffle his pack

ARESENAL v/s WIGAN ATHLETIC

ARSENAL manager Arsene Wenger insists his faltering team will justify his faith in the long run, as he aims to take another step towards a long-awaited trophy tonight.

Gunners supporters have been tested in recent weeks by home defeats to Newcastle and then Tottenham, and a craven Champions League surrender away to Braga.

But Wenger is convinced that his unstinting loyalty to a group of players who have failed to deliver silverware in the last five years will ultimately be vindicated. “I am still quite optimistic, even if disappointed by the results,” said the Frenchman, who has vowed to field a strong side against Wigan in the Carling Cup quarter-final.

“I have no major reason to doubt the team and the players, so even if my disappointment was huge, maybe that is why I am less down than many people – because I see all the positive signs which are in my team. I am confident on the longer-term, like it is a marathon, that will all come out – keep with us, and keep faith with the team.

“I know their attitude is spot on, I know they have the quality, and we will not always lose games where the opponent only has one shot on goal.”

Midfielder Emmanuel Eboue has miraculously recovered from a knee injury while forward trio Robin van Persie, Nicklas Bendtner and Theo Walcott are likely to feature as Wenger shuffles his pack.

Arsenal last night said they expected the fixture to go ahead, despite the cold snap, but urged fans to monitor the club’s website for updates.