Arsene Wenger defended his decision to play Alexis Sanchez at Norwich on Sunday – even though he saw the forward forced off through injury.
The Arsenal boss is in the midst of another injury crisis after losing Sanchez to a hamstring issue in the 1-1 draw at Carrow Road.
As well as the Chile forward, the Gunners also saw Laurent Koscielny limp off with a hip problem and Santi Cazorla suffer a blow to the knee which Wenger speculated could have caused ligament damage.
But it is the potential loss of Sanchez that will be a massive void for Wenger to fill in the coming weeks – especially as he had already revealed in the build-up to the Carrow Road clash that the former Barcelona man had felt his hamstring after starring in the 3-0 victory over Dinamo Zagreb on Tuesday.
Before pulling up in the second half, Sanchez had set up the opening goal for Mesut Ozil only to see the recalled Lewis Grabban level for the hosts – who should have led at the break after Wes Hoolahan missed a genuine sitter from all of four yards out.
Despite seeing Sanchez hobble off, Wenger said he had no reason to rest one of his key players for a game in which, had they won, Arsenal would have drawn level with Manchester City and Leicester at the top of the Barclays Premier League table.
“No, the players are there to play football, not to be rested when the press decides when they need to be rested,” he replied when asked if he regretted playing Sanchez.
“He says it’s a kick on his hamstring. I believe that’s not really the reality. I fear it is not the reality.
“Nobody is scientifically developed enough, not even the press, to predict when a guy will be injured. I must say with all our humility, we are not in a position to predict. We are not in a position where we can predict. Despite our tests he looked alright.
“We checked it (the hamstring). When you have normal stretch and force there is no problem. We checked it and he had no problem.”
Meanwhile, Koscielny was still in obvious pain as the squad departed Carrow Road to head to the airport as Wenger, who also lost Kieran Gibbs to a calf problem before the game, gave a negative prognosis on Cazorla’s knock.
“When he was down he had a kick on the knee,” Wenger explained.
“We don’t know if it jaded his knee ligaments or was a kick on the nerve but the worrying thing is it got worse during the game. Koscielny was a kick on the hip and he can’t move even now.”