By Emma Sanders
Arsene Wenger refused to admit the loss of Shkodran Mustafi had a big effect on his side during their disappointing 2-1 defeat against Everton on Tuesday evening.
The 24-year-old was forced to miss the clash after picking up an injury in the 3-1 victory against Stoke earlier this month and is not expected to return to the side until after Christmas.
He has already been ruled out of the clash against Manchester City this Sunday and could miss the remaining 2016 fixture against West Brom as well as the game against Crystal Palace on New Year’s Day.
Wenger admitted it was disappointing to lose big players during clashes against the top teams but was careful to keep the focus on the players who were in action when asked how much Mustafi’s absence affected the result.
“Only when you lose the game, the guys who are not there are always the heroes. But we have many big players who have not played many big games but you have to look at the players on the pitch,” Wenger said in a press conference, as posted by the club’s official Twitter account.
“That’s where you have to be realistic and not cry too much about people who were not there.”
Arsenal have been hit with a number of major injuries this season and have been without Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla, Hector Bellerin and Olivier Giroud among several others at points during the campaign.
Mustafi became the latest in a long list of injury concerns for Wenger but his loss is perhaps one of the most influential given the lack of back-up in defence.
Gabriel has filled in for the German alongside Laurent Koscielny but with Per Mertersacker also returning from injury, there isn’t much depth in the squad.
In other Arsenal news, this 25-year-old has been ruled out of the clash against City.