x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Vela can make the most of Van Persie's absence

The Mexican striker is one of Wenger's hopes for the future as Arsenal are set to field another young team against Manchester City.

At this stage of the Carling Cup, it would be easy for Arsene Wenger to accede to demands and play a strong side against Manchester City tonight. Following Sunday's defeat by Chelsea, Arsenal's Premier League title hopes have taken a blow. The Carling Cup would relieve some of the pressure on the Frenchman to deliver a trophy. But Wenger remains faithful to his long-term philosophy so his talented crop of youngsters will once more step out into the limelight to take on their more experienced opponents Manchester City at Eastlands in the quarter-final tie, with the belief of their manager.

"The Carling Cup is a competition that is not one of our priorities, but we go to Manchester City to win a game," said Wenger. "We'll play our young players in the Carling Cup, and some of them will play in the Champions League [at Olympiakos on December 9] as well because we are already qualified." Carlos Vela is one of Wenger's hopes for the future. Over the past two seasons he has had bit-part roles, but with Robin van Persie sidelined for five months, the Mexican striker will get more of a chance to prove he can live up to the expectations spawned by his exploits at the Under-17 World Cup in 2005 when he finished top scorer as his country won the trophy.

"It's difficult," says Vela, who has scored five times in three starts in the Carling Cup. "There's so much quality here, but when my opportunity comes along, I aim to make the most of it and go from there. "I really want to improve on last season. "I want to score more goals than last season and play more and the main aim for the team is to win something." @Email:akhan@thenational.ae