AITOR Karanka wants to simultaneously beat and learn from Arsene Wenger tomorrow (kick off 4pm).
The Middlesbrough boss is excited to pit his wits against the veteran manager who has been in charge of Boro’s FA Cup fifth-round opponents Arsenal since 1996.
Wenger has encountered criticism over the past decade for failing to make the Gunners regular title challengers, but he still commands massive respect across the game.
Karanka, 41 and with just 16 months of managerial history compared to 65-year-old Wenger’s 31 years in the dugout, is eager to be educated.
“To play against a manager like Wenger is amazing for me as I have to learn from everybody,” said the Spaniard.
“I have to learn from the best.
“I can’t learn yet as I don’t know him.
“But I can learn about his management and his style of play.
“Arsenal always try to play well so I can learn about this.”
The cup holders are not expected to field a weakened side against the Championship leaders which will make Boro’s already seismic task that bit tougher.
But Boro’s deep squad has allowed Karanka to rotate – he made seven changes against Blackpool in midweek – so competitiveness in the squad is yielding a togetherness in this crucial period.
“It is because we worked very well in the summer,” he told BBC Tees. “We bought the right players and now I have an amazing squad.
“It is an amazing squad of players and it is easy for me to prepare the game against Charlton at the Riverside and then it wasn’t a problem for me to prepare for the game and change the team against Blackpool with six or seven players because all of them are ready.
“Against Blackpool I put Tommo (Lee Tomlin) on the pitch for 10 minutes.
“Sometimes this can be difficult for a player (to play 10 minutes) but he was perfect.
“He showed everybody the feeling that the squad are committed.”
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