Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says he is happy to take the blame for injuries to the likes of Santi Cazorla and Alexis Sanchez but maintains he never forces any of his squad to play against their will.
Wenger saw Cazorla and Sanchez pick up knee and hamstring injuries respectively in Sunday’s draw with Norwich City, acknowledging on Friday that the former could be out until March.
A return date for Sanchez remains unclear, with Wenger also missing Jack Wilshere, Danny Welbeck and Francis Coquelin for the visit of Sunderland this weekend.
“You know the injury situation. Players who were injured last week won’t play, maybe [Laurent] Koscielny is in the squad, maybe [Theo] Walcott – there will be a decision [on Walcott] tomorrow morning,” the Frenchman told reporters.
“Sanchez is a hamstring but I don’t know how long [he will be out]. Usually he’s quick to recover but Cazorla we don’t know until he sees a specialist.
“It’s possible [he could be out until March]. Ideally you want them all with you but we are prepared to deal with it.”
Assessing accusations that his mentality has been behind Arsenal’s injury troubles in recent seasons, Wenger added: “I dont like to push players who are reluctant to play in games.
“You know I never force anyone to play. We are in a job where you have to be 100 per cent and you must feel confident in your body.
“I believe that’s a debate I leave to specialists. We have no more injuries than anyone else.
“Sanchez had four weeks holiday, he was rested in some games, he had all the medical signs to play. There were five days between Dinamo Zagreb and Norwich but no-one suggested he could hurt his hamstring or his back when he was pushed into the camera.
“If you want to blame me, I have no problem.”