Wenger stands by decision to play Coquelin at centre-back

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Arsene Wenger stood by his decision to play Francis Coquelin at centre-back against Manchester City.

Arsenal were beaten 3-1 at the Etihad Stadium, where Premier League leaders City continued their brilliant form.

Midfielder Coquelin was asked to play as a makeshift central defender because Arsenal were without the likes of Per Mertesacker and Rob Holding.

Asked at his post-match press conference about his decision, Gunners boss Wenger said: “I can explain to you that Mertesacker came in sick, Holding had a thigh strain and Mathieu Debuchy has just come back from a long time absent.”

Wenger added: “I don’t see it as a big problem. To play in the middle, if you are a defensive midfielder, it is exactly the same.”

Wenger also started without an out and out striker.

Alexandre Lacazette, who scored the visitors’ goal, started on the bench, leaving Alexis Sanchez to lead the attack.

“In the first half he (Sanchez) was sharp but did not have enough support. I think he gave everything,” said Wenger.

“When you go 2-0 down of course you then have to take a gamble. After that I felt we were more in the game.”

The result left Arsenal in sixth place in the table, 12 points behind City.

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