wenger squad wembley

Arsene Wenger has explained his decision to keep Per Mertesacker on the bench despite his return from suspension.

The German defender, who retired from international football after winning the 2014 FIFA World Cup, has been Laurent Koscielny’s partner at the heart of Arsenal’s defence for much of this campaign.

However, Mertesacker has failed to start a game for the Gunners since serving a one-match ban for a sending off as Chelsea won 1-0 at the Emirates stadium last month.

The absence of the 31-year-old has handed more playing time to Gabriel who has kept a clean-sheet in back-to-back Premier League games.

According Wenger, the decision to omit Mertesacker was for the good of the team.

“It’s difficult for me to go into any individual assessment. I think he has played many games. Sometimes I use a different formula.” the Arsenal manager said.

Despite Gabriel’s form, it remains unclear who Koscielny’s partner will be when the Gunners face Leicester this weekend, but Wenger insists whoever he picks on Sunday will be based on the threat posed by Jamie Vardy and company.

“Per Mertesacker is a great leader, a very respected one in our dressing room, but I have three entire backs and I adapt a little bit to their level of form, to the number of games they’ve played and to the opponents we play against. What are their strengths and where can they hurt us?” he added.

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