Arsene Wenger insisted he had no regrets over risking Alexis Sanchez in the 1-1 draw at Norwich despite the influential Chilean forward being forced off the pitch with a thigh injury.
Sanchez, Santi Cazorla and Laurent Koscielny were all added to a lengthy list of long-term casualties on Sunday after a match that left Arsenal in fourth place in the Premier League table.
Wenger was already without almost an entire team of stars as Mikel Arteta, Francis Coquelin, Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott, Danny Welbeck and Tomas Rosicky are currently sidelined.
Koscielny was forced off early on with a hip problem, Sanchez was next to depart with a thigh injury and although Cazorla was able to complete the game despite a knee injury, Wenger described the Spain midfielder as “playing on one leg”.
Wenger knows Arsenal fans are bitterly disappointed about the loss of Sanchez above all as the Chile forward has been outstanding all season.
Another factor is the admission Wenger made three days before the Norwich game that he had known Sanchez was carrying a hamstring problem yet still decided not to rest him.
Wenger robustly defended that decision.
“Do I regret playing Sanchez?” posed the Frenchman. “No — the players are there to play football not to be rested when the press decide they need to be rested.
“Nobody is scientifically developed enough — not even the press — to predict exactly when someone will be injured. I must say with all humility we are not in a position where we can predict.
“Despite all our tests he looked all right. We checked it, when you have normal force and normal stretch usually that means there is no problem.
“There are plenty of players across Europe who play in every single game.”
If Cazorla has to drop out of contention then Wenger will switch Aaron Ramsey to central midfield, the Wales star’s preferred position while Koscielny’s injury opens the door for Gabriel, the Brazilian, to stake a claim for a permanent place.
MOURINHO’S RIFT WITH UNHAPPY COSTA
Mourinho admitted the pair had argued at half-time during the mid-week Champions League victory away to Maccabi Tel Aviv and Costa’s mood at White Hart Lane on Sunday suggested he had taken his demotion badly.
The Spain international failed to warm up until told to late in the game, generally looked disgruntled and at one point appeared to toss his training bib in the direction of the manager.
But Mourinho said he had no complaints about Costa’s behaviour, saying: “When I asked him to warm up, he did. I put him with Ruben (Loftus-Cheek) and Kenedy, warming up.
“Diego is very privileged because he was the last one to be on the bench. Everyone else has been.”