The Gunners manager has to juggle several impressive players in the middle of the park, carefully trying to maintain competition for places while keeping everyone happy
The Gunners are well stocked for creative players and left Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on the bench against Crystal Palace on August 16 despite a bright start in their first game of the season, while Mikel Arteta was also on the bench and Jack Wilshere is out injured.
Wenger, who must select a starting XI to beat Liverpool on Monday, says that balancing competition for places between so many talented players is a difficult tightrope to walk.
He told the club’s official website: “It’s an impossible job but that’s why I tell you I always get asked two questions: ‘Why don’t you buy more players?’ and ‘How do you keep them all happy now?’
“I believe that competition is part of our job. On the other hand, you have to get the number right – too many players in the squad goes against competition. If you have a certain number of players who think they never have a chance to play, they killed something. Not enough players creates too much of a comfort zone.”
Santi Cazorla is one of the men being juggled by Wenger, who notes that deciding whether to field the diminutive Spaniard on the left flank or deep in midfield has been a particularly close call.
“It is tricky because he is an important player in the build-up of our game. He is naturally a guy who brings fluidity and gets you out of tight situations,” the Frenchman observed.
“My thinking [putting him out wide] was more about physical power in the centre of the park, to win the ball back and be capable of winning challenges [as] Santi is a more technical player and also to get him higher up, next to [Mesut] Ozil, to play through the lines, find those two, and combine in the final third.
“It worked sometimes – and sometimes not. The first goal in these games is vital but, anyway, against West Ham, I changed in the second half and brought Cazorla back to central midfield.”
Having recovered to a win at Palace following a defeat to West Ham in their first game of the campaign, Wenger is hopeful that his side have shown enough so far to put them in good stead against the Reds.
“[We must] play at the level we played at Crystal Palace, with good pace,” he declared. “I think Liverpool will be a different game than West Ham. Against West Ham, we conceded a set-piece and, after that, another goal just before half time.
“After that, it was difficult but, if you look well – and you have to analyse the game well – against West Ham we didn’t give chances away. You play this game 20 times, you win it 19 because they had very, very, very few chances. Their goals came from our mistakes. That’s why we had to look at ourselves.”