Arsene Wenger regrets playing Aaron Ramsey against Watford after the Wales international was ruled out for up to a month with a hamstring injury.
Ramsey was taken off during Wednesday’s 2-0 Champions League win over Bayern Munich, with Wenger late confirming he will be sidelined until the next international break in mid-November.
Speaking ahead of Saturday’s clash with Everton at the Emirates Stadium, Wenger has confirmed the 24-year-old is unlikely to return for three or four weeks and said he “regretted” the decision to select him against Watford on October 17 – just four days after Wales’ game with Andorra.
The Gunners boss also confirmed he asked Roy Hodgson not to play Theo Walcott for England against Lithuania due to concerns over the artificial surface, as he was wary of “overloading” the player in the same way as Ramsey.
“Because they played on an artificial pitch,” he explained when asked for his reasoning. “He is coming back from a long-term injury. Basically, nobody wants to play on an artificial pitch.”
Turning to the visit of Roberto Martinez’s side, Wenger is eager for Arsenal to sustain the form that has seen them win three games in a row without conceding a goal.
He has also defended his decision to rotate Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud in attack due to the fixture congestion at this stage of the season.
“You want to do well in the big games at home. We want to produce the same performance again,” Wenger said.
“We always have a feel-good factor inside our club. Always togetherness, but not always the results we want.
“The most important thing is that they [Walcott and Giroud] contribute goals.
“You have to accept no club in the world can play one striker for the whole season.
“You are bit harsh with me when you say Walcott plays on his own. [Alexis] Sanchez plays up front. It is true it is not the traditional 4-4-2. But Sanchez plays close to the traditional 4-4-2.”
Wenger has also urged Mesut Ozil to continue his improved goalscoring form of late, adding: “You want a player of Ozil’s calibre to add goals to his assists. He is world class.”
Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal has described a lack of a winter break in England as “evil” this week but Wenger insists it should be a cherished part of Premier League football.
“I would cry if you changed that. It is part of English tradition and English football,” he added.