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Arsene Wenger willing to shoulder the blame for mounting Arsenal injuries

Published 04/12/2015

Santi Cazorla suffered a knee injury during last weekend's draw at Norwich.
Santi Cazorla suffered a knee injury during last weekend's draw at Norwich.

Arsene Wenger is willing to shoulder the blame for Arsenal's current injury crisis - but also pointed to an incident at Norwich that could have led to Alexis Sanchez's hamstring problem.

The Gunners lost Sanchez, Laurent Koscielny and Santi Cazorla during Sunday's 1-1 draw at Carrow Road, with Kieran Gibbs ruled out in the run-up to the game.

Cazorla is by far the worst of those fresh injury worries and Wenger conceded the Spain international could be out until March with knee trouble.

Questions had been asked in advance of the trip to Norfolk about the amount of football Sanchez had played without a break, with Wenger revealing that the Chile forward had felt his hamstring during the 3-0 Champions League victory over Dinamo Zagreb.

But Sanchez was deployed at Norwich only to pull up injured in the second-half and he will now miss the start of a busy festive period.

Wenger has a host of other first-team regulars on the treatment table, although Koscielny should be fit for Saturday's clash with Sunderland while Theo Walcott could return from a calf injury, and said he will take the blame for the number of players out.

"I'm not expert enough to know but if you want to blame me I'm okay with it," he said.

"We have tests as well, we have medical tests. We are quite sophisticated in testing our players. I had a chat with Alexis after his injury and he was adamant he felt perfect before the game because we tested his strength, stretching, all the signs we have we test every week were perfect.

"There was no obvious sign or alert before the game - it happened, do I have to take the blame? I do, but there was not an obvious mistake to select him before the game."

Sanchez had laid on Mesut Ozil's opening goal at Norwich before he was pushed into a camera pit by Canaries defender Ryan Bennett as both left the pitch chasing the ball.

And Wenger feels not enough was made of the incident as Sanchez had to be helped out of the area following the incident.

"Alexis had four weeks holiday, he was rested in some games and had all the medical signs to say he was okay to play between Dinamo Zagreb and Norwich," he said.

"But nobody suggested that he could displace his back or his hamstring. When he was pushed into the boards on the side of the field that did not shock anybody. That injury can come from that as well."

"I never force anyone to play. We are in a job where you need to give 100 per cent and to give 100 per cent you must feel absolutely confident and have confidence in your body. I don't like to push players who are reluctant to play games.

"If you ask me when you play a cup final, you don't listen too much to the players because they are all fit. But in normal situations, sometimes you have to get the feeling from the player because at the end of the day you have to trust them."

Cazorla suffered knee ligament damage after a collision with Gary O'Neil early in the second half but continued on until the end - with Wenger admitting afterwards the midfielder was "playing on one leg".

"It is possible, yes," he replied on Friday when asked whether reports suggesting Cazorla could be out until March were accurate.

"Alexis is a hamstring but I don't know how long it will take, it is usually a quick one to recover while Cazorla we don't know until he sees a specialist. There is no news on that."

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