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Arsene Wenger promises first-team role for benched Arsenal star against Sunderland

PUBLISHED: 06:45 09 January 2016 | UPDATED: 17:13 09 January 2016

Arsenal's David Ospina celebrates (John Walton/PA Wire)

Arsenal's David Ospina celebrates (John Walton/PA Wire)

EMPICS Sport

Arsene Wenger says David Ospina will start in goal for Arsenal in the FA Cup this season.

Wenger has exployed a system in recent years of playing his second-choice goalkeeper in the cup competitions, with Lukasz Fabianski and Wojciech Szczesny each making long runs to the FA Cup final in the past two seasons.

Earlier in this campaign Wenger started Ospina in a crucial Champions League game against Olympiakos with disastrous consequences, as the Colombian made a decisive error in a 3-2 defeat.

Nevertheless, the Arsenal boss says he will again give his backup keeper a chance, with Ospina set to start against Sunderland in the third round on Saturday.

Wenger explained why he believes Ospina receives too much criticism from fans and the media and why buying Petr Cech from Chelsea in the summer was a difficult decision.

“Ospina will play,” Wenger said. “He is one who I feel is not treated fairly.

“If you look at the whole of 2015 everyone neglects to remember that he played for six months. I personally think he is a world-class goalkeeper and I would not have taken Petr Cech considering the performances of Ospina.

“Signing Cech was just an exceptional opportunity where it was difficult to say no. I did not take Cech because I was unhappy with Ospina, I was very happy with Ospina. But it was such an opportunity that to say no would not be right.

“Unfortunately Ospina has been punished by that decision. But I rate him highly.

“It’s true that he had a bad year because he made that mistake against Olympiakos, and when you have few opportunities and one bad catch everybody is after you.

“But looking at his performances from January, he saved us in many games.

At the age of 27, Ospina is now nearing his prime as a goalkeeper and the Colombian will undoubtedly be looking for regular first-team football in the coming years.

Wenger praised Ospina’s attidute and patience while he waits for his chance, and he revealed his hope that the shot-stopper could again become his number one in the future.

“He is a top pro,” Wenger said. “We are lucky because he has a top attitude, very brave, very intelligent, very quick.

“The difference between him and Cech is he has less experience and the size of Cech. He is so tall that when he stretches he covers more surface.

“I think he can be the goalkeeper of the future here. With Cech getting older he might get more games year after year.”

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