Arsenal's success this season has come at a price.
Some established members of the squad have struggled to win a
place in the starting XI because, with every justification,
Arsène Wenger has been loathed to change a winning side.
A record of nine straight victories means players such as Gilberto and Lassana Diarra could be more likely to start for their national teams than their club side. However, at his press conference ahead of the home game with Sunderland, the Frenchman fully accepted a perennial predicament of the successful manager.
"In our job there is always competition," said Wenger. "It's not because you don't select a player that you don't respect him.
"For example Gilberto doesn't play at the moment. I have a huge respect for Gilberto, for the man and the player. But at the end of the day you can only select 11 players to start a football game, and it's part of our job to deal with that as well. You feel sorry but you have as well to be realistic.
"I have 23 difficult decisions because all my squad I can play - Diarra for Flamini, or Gilberto or Denilson. They are all top-level players and every decision is difficult to make, but I consider how the team goes at the moment and how they will play."Copyright 2017 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