Arsene Wenger has revealed why he took Laurent Koscielny off in the 3-3 draw with Bournemouth after the captain was substituted in the 63rd minute.
Gabriel came on for the France international who did not appear to have picked up an injury and had been one of the Gunners’ better players on a difficult night.
However, Wenger, who has been openly critical of the fixture list, says Koscielny needed a break and had to be taken off.
“He was tired, he had cramps in both legs and that’s why I decided to take him off,” he said via the official Arsenal website.
Wenger also revealed that Hector Bellerin, who has a night to forget, was also struggling for fitness as the Gunners struggled to cope with playing two games in 48 hours.
“He [Bellerin] had a knock, he was uncertain to play,” he said. “That’s the problem when you have only 48 hours, you have to play some players who come out of a game like Crystal Palace [with knocks].
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“We had three or four players who we had to wait for the warm up to see if they could play We had Koscielny, we had Gabriel that I didn’t start in the end because I was not in a position, and then I did not start Oxlade-Chamberlain because I did not take a gamble with him because I don’t know who we have to take off.
“You cannot take the fresh player out but then you cannot, the players who have played 48 hours before, you cannot take them out. It complicates a lot, the job. But we have to shut up and cope with it.”
Wenger’s words will be a huge relief and ease fans’ worries particularly with Francis Coquelin and Mesut Ozil sidelined and with Shkodran Mustafi and Bellerin having endured a rare off day against Bournemouth.