Mikel Arteta has voiced his concerns about player fatigue and a potential injury pile-up at Arsenal after he chose not to risk Kieran Tierney in the Gunners’ last match.
Tierney was left out of the squad to face Crystal Palace last Thursday as a precaution due to a potential calf injury.
A subsequent scan showed the defender had not suffered a muscle tear and he has returned to contention to face Newcastle on Monday night.
Tierney’s absence from Arsenal’s left flank was sorely felt against Palace, as the Gunners failed to break down their stubborn opposition at the Emirates.
But Arteta is resigned to the fact he needs to “protect” his players and avoid taking “risks” which could lead to injuries.
Quizzed on whether he may need to make a number of changes for the visit of Newcastle, the Gunners boss said: “Yes, but when you are winning, you want to be in the team.
“When someone is doing well then you don’t want to take him out because you get asked: ‘Why are you taking him out?’
“The players also want to continue to play because they can’t see the bigger picture but it’s our responsibility to protect them.
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“We could have taken a big risk with Kieran against Palace and it wasn’t the right one to take because we could have exposed him big time.”
On the subject of whether his players could face exhaustion due to the hectic schedule, Arteta added: “Yes. We have been trying to manage it, but the reality is that the fixtures are what they are.
“And we didn’t have a pre-season, which is why – and we’ve talked about it many, many times – one of the reasons we wanted the five subs.
“It was exactly that, but this is just the consequences and this will happen more and more, I think, and to more clubs.”
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