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Wenger hands Euro debut to Meade but won’t rule out January buys

Arsenal's Jernande Meade (left), on his Champions League debut, tackles Olympiakos' Paulo Machado. Photo credit: AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis Arsenal's Jernande Meade (left), on his Champions League debut, tackles Olympiakos' Paulo Machado. Photo credit: AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis

Wednesday, December 5, 2012
7:45 AM

Arsene Wenger was pleased with the Champions League debut of 20-year-old defender Jernade Meade in last night’s 2-1 defeat to Olympiakos but hinted he could yet look for reinforcements when the transfer window opens.

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With qualification already secure ahead of the last Group B tie, the Arsenal boss had elected to leave several first-team regulars behind, including Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere, packing the bench with youngsters Zak Ansah, Swiss defenders Sead Hajrovic and Martin Angha, Elton Monteiro and 17-year-old English striker Chuba Akpom.

Meade started and played 80 minutes before he was replaced by 18-year-old Angha, and Wenger feels it would have been a good experience for the duo, as he believes competitive action is a good yardstick for the development of his starlets.

“I feel the young players, you discover them in these kind of competitions we had tonight. They have the quality,” he said.

“If everybody is fit we have a strong squad, but in certain areas we are a bit short because we cannot rotate.

“We will see where we stand on January 1 and see what we do.”

Tomas Rosicky, who made his return from a long injury lay-off in Saturday’s Premier League defeat to Swansea, scored the opener in Athens last night but was replaced at half time by Andrey Arshavin.

Wenger revealed the substitution was pre-planned, saying: “Tomas has not played for six months and we were cautious with him.

“We decided before the game to play for 45 minutes and see how he got on. He is a bit tight, muscular, but no [new] injury.

“We will see how we recovers now for Saturday.”

The Gunners will host fifth-placed West Brom at the weekend and Wenger challenged his team to produce a response after two consecutive defeats.

He said: “It is a good opportunity for us to keep focussed, to show strength and unity, that is what you want to do in the next game.”

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