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Rediff News  All News  » Sports » Van Persie back for youthful Arsenal

Van Persie back for youthful Arsenal

January 09, 2008 10:11 IST

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will resist any temptation to sideline his young guns in the first leg of their League Cup semi-final against Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday.

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Arsenal have already completed a Premier League double over Spurs this season and will start as favourites to continue their domination over their north London rivals despite Wenger continuing to use the competition to field his squad players.

Dutch striker Robin van Persie will add some experience as he returns to partner Theo Walcott up front after recovering from knee and leg injuries that have restricted him to just 85 minutes since late October.

But there will be no place for Jens Lehmann in goal with Lukasz Fabianski playing behind a defence that will include Johan Djourou and Philippe Senderos.

Tottenham have bad memories of last year's semi-final when they surged into a 2-0 lead at home in the first leg only to be pegged back to 2-2. Arsenal won the second leg 3-1 after extra time before losing to Chelsea in the final.

The Spurs strikers have been rampant this season with Robbie Keane and Dimitar Berbatov particularly prolific.

However, it is a sieve-like defence that threatens to undermine Spanish coach Juande Ramos's hopes of beginning his reign with the club's first trophy since the League Cup in 1999.

"We know against a side like Arsenal that we can't afford to make mistakes and we'll be well aware of it when we go to the Emirates," captain Ledley King told the club Web site (

"We need to keep solid and we know we can score goals."

Tottenham, searching for their first win over Arsenal since 1999, will be without midfielder Didier Zokora who is on international duty with the Ivory Coast and the suspended Tom Huddlestone.

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