By Chris Harris
Arsène Wenger will not risk the fitness of his players during this busy time of year - especially those who have been susceptible to injury in the past.
Arsenal are halfway through a run of four games in nine days and their manager has used the full depth of his squad already, making eight changes for Wednesday’s trip to Wigan.
At his pre-match press conference on Friday, Wenger explained why he may do likewise for the weekend game at Birmingham and pointed out that certain individuals need more protection than others.
“Physically I have to be a little bit more protective with Van Persie and Djourou at the moment,” admitted the Frenchman.
“They are just coming back [from injuries]. Djourou was out for nine months with a big question mark about his knee so I am naturally a bit more protective.”
Eyebrows were raised when Wenger made wholesale changes for the Wigan game, even though it came just 48 hours after a gruelling encounter with Chelsea. But the Frenchman believes he had no option.
“Fabregas was suspended and it's always the same when you rotate, if you keep five in and keep five fresh it never works,” he said. “You change completely or you keep everybody completely in.
“I felt that we played late at night with a big mental involvement against Chelsea and next we play Birmingham, a massive game.
“When it doesn't work people question the decision. This is natural. But maybe we would have lost with the team that played Chelsea. Who knows?"Copyright 2016 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source