Arsene Wenger has explained why he left Aaron Ramsey out of the Arsenal squad that lost to Brighton on Sunday.
Arsenal slipped to a 2-1 defeat to relegation-battling Brighton, marking their fourth straight loss.
Ramsey was out of the squad after facing Manchester City twice in the space of four days.
Reports early on Sunday suggested the Gunners were considering selling the midfielder, whose contract expires in 2019, in an effort to not lose him for free next year.
Wenger says he didn’t feature at Brighton simply because he did not want to “gamble” on his fitness.
“I left him at home because I played him in the two games against City, without a lot of training in behind,” he said.
“I didn’t want to gamble today for a physical setback, so I left him completely out of the squad.
“Yes [it’s a sign of the Europa League’s importance], because we have to be realistic. We need two teams to collapse [in the Premier League]. I can’t see that at the moment because two teams to drop so many points is very difficult to imagine.
“But we have to give our best for as long as we can. Of course, the Europa League becomes important.”