Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has told Arsenal's official website that injuries and illness to his defenders were the main reason that midfielder Francis Coquelin played in defence during Sunday's 3-1 loss at Manchester City.
Coquelin, who usually plays as a defensive midfielder, played in the back three of a 3-4-2-1 formation, but the Gunners were blown away by the league leaders and Wenger's team selection, especially Coquelin's positioning, was heavily criticised as a result.
The Frenchman told the club's website: "I can explain to you that Mertesacker came into training yesterday morning, sick. That Holding had a thigh strain. That Debuchy had just come back from [being] a long-time absentee.
"That I don’t see that big a problem to play in the middle of the [central defensive] two. You’re a defensive midfielder or a defender, it’s exactly the same. I don’t think that was a problem in our game."
The defeat, Arsenal's fourth on their travels this season, leaves the Gunners sixth with a first title since 2004 already looking impossible this season. They face a huge game after the international break whe they host North London rivals Tottenham at home.