By Chris Harris

Arsène Wenger picked Andre Santos for the final Champions League group game at Olympiacos because he wanted to "respect the competition".

The Arsenal manager gave his fringe players a chance to impress in Greece with top spot already secured but he opted for a strong back four with Thomas Vermaelen and Santos both in the starting line-up.

The decision back-fired when Santos suffered ankle ligament damage during the 3-1 defeat and was ruled out for around three months. Wenger admits he took a risk but insisted he had good intentions with Olympiacos one of three teams fighting for second place in Group F.

"I took a gamble because I did not want to be accused of just throwing the game away and I felt that therefore you needed a solid defence," he explained. "I wanted to be fair to the competition.

"Analysing him he came [into the squad] later and played less games than the others, and that's why I played him. But I had a long hesitation before I picked him, believe me.

"I felt he was a bit tired in the game before, and he had problems finishing the game. The way it happened to him it could have happened to anyone. It was not a kick, there was no contact, he was just on his own. He ruptured his ligament.

"It is very disappointing because it is first of all sad for the player and sad for the Club. It hits us in a position where we of course already have many injuries and where he improved from game to game.

"The length of the injury is very sad as well because he is three months out. The only good news is that the surgery went well and so he should recover quickly."

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16 Dec 2011