Arsene Wenger has explained his decision to remove Theo Walcott from the starting line-up for the Premier League clash with Watford.

The England international scored a sublime hat-trick in the 5-0 victory over Southampton last weekend.

However, there was no place in the first eleven for Walcott yesterday as Arsenal lost 2-1 to Watford on home turf.

According to Wenger, a fitness concern is why the 27-year-old had to settle for the role as a substitute.

“He played in the second half. If you look at his history, he was not played in five and half weeks,” Wenger said

“He was stiff yesterday. I kept him out of training yesterday. We have three games this week.

“We know well. Don’t think we are completely stupid in the way we make decisions. I think it was a normal decision.

“I don’t know. It’s very difficult to know. It would be a very easy excuse [not playing Walcott]. We prepared the game well. We were warned that Watford would come and make it very physical. I have no basic regret in the way we prepared the game.

“Did we think subconsciously that we’ll turn up and it’ll work, I don’t know. From the stand, I agree with you. Our first half was not at the level we wanted.”

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