Little over a year ago, no-one could have foreseen Lauren leaving Arsenal. According to Arsène Wenger he was one of the first names down on the team-sheet.

But times change and, at Friday afternoon's press conference ahead of the clash with Manchester United, the Arsenal manager outlined why he let the 30-year-old right back sign for Portsmouth. It transpires that it was a terribly tough call.

"Lauren he was out for nine months and so Emmanuel Eboue and Justin Hoyte played," said Wenger. "Do I stop their development and play Lauren or do I let him go somewhere else? I had to make that kind of decision.

"If I played him then I knew I'd have to lose either Hoyte or Eboue which I didn't want to do.

"I know I have lost a fantastic player and I'd like to pay tribute to him because he was amazing for the Club. He was not only a player with quality and experience but also a fantastic guy who was mentally very strong."

17/2 - Arsenal v Manchester United: Arsenal to win 2-1

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19 Jan 2007