Arsene Wenger admits his decision to play Cesc Fabregas against Braga ‘backfired’ after admitting that the Arsenal captain could be out for three weeks.
Fabregas has been suffering from a hamstring injury this season and Wenger considered leaving the midfielder out of his team for Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League tie.
The Spain international started the 2-0 defeat in Portugal, but was replaced by Samir Nasri midway through the second half after suffering a fresh hamstring injury.
Wenger, who also saw Emmanuel Eboue suffer a knee injury against Portugal, has already ruled Fabregas out of Saturday’s game at Aston Villa and admits his midfielder could be out for three weeks.
“Eboue will be out for a while and we will have to assess Fabregas. It could be two to three weeks,” said Wenger.
“I took the gamble and it backfired on us. We will have to assess Fabregas on Wednesday. It is very disappointing because I had a hesitation to play him before the match started.”
The result means the Gunners must match Braga’s result against Shakhtar when they face Partizan Belgrade at the Emirates Stadium in two weeks’ time to ensure they progress to the knockout stages.
“We were not sharp enough to create clear-cut chances,” admitted Wenger, who made seven changes from the game against Spurs. “But Saturday’s result had no knock-on effect.
“Tonight we played against a team who refused to play and tried to catch us on the counter attack. They used every single trick in the book to slow the game down.
“I think we had enough on the pitch to make a goal but football is like that when the other team focuses not to play. Everybody is free to play the way they like and they won.
“We could play 10 matches like that and win eight or nine times but tonight was the one we didn’t.”