When Alex Iwobi replaced Danny Welbeck at half-time during last night’s 1-0 defeat to Cologne, it sparked initial fears that the forward had picked up another injury.
However, it was revealed after the game that it was a planned move, designed to give the 26 year old some minutes as he makes his way back from a hamstring strain.
The England international is viewed by Arsene Wenger as a key component of his ‘first team’, and the Europa League game was used as a kind of fitness exercise for more important fixtures.
“It was planned before the game that he would only play 45 minutes,” said the Arsenal boss.
“He has only just come back from injury, and we have three more games on Sunday, Wednesday and Saturday again.
“Medically, the risk was a bit too high to play him for longer because he has been out for a while. He has no problem.
“Of course, he was ready to stay on and frustrated to come off, but he’s in good shape.”
Arsenal take on Burnley on Sunday, then face Huddersfield away in midweek before hosting Man Utd next weekend, so the schedule is pretty hectic.
Fingers crossed those 45 minutes help Welbeck make a telling contribution over the next week.