Arsène Wenger dismissed suggestions that the absence of Cesc Fabregas lead to Arsenal's defeat at Middlesbrough on Sunday.
 
Once again, the Frenchman was without five major players when he sent his side out at the Riverside Stadium. Having picked up a win and a draw from trips to Villa and Newcastle over the course of the previous week, Wenger was hopeful of restoring his side's four-point lead at the top of the table.

However Stewart Downing's third-minute penalty and Tuncay's excellent second consigned Arsenal to their first domestic defeat in eight months. Speaking after the game, the Arsenal manager acknowledged his side's injury problems but refused to put the defeat down to the absence of any individual.
 
"I don't like to speak about the players who are not here," he said. "I always have confidence in the players who play. When you go into a season you know you will miss some players at some stage.
 
"At the moment we miss players in the same area. That handicaps a little bit our creative potential. But it does not mean we have to give away a penalty after three minutes."

Copyright 2014 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 10 Dec 2007