Wenger regrets Wilshere loan as injuries hit Arsenal

Britain Football Soccer - AFC Bournemouth v Arsenal - Premier League - Vitality Stadium - 3/1/17 Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger before the match Reuters / Dylan Martinez Livepic

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is now regretting his decision to allow Jack Wilshere to go on loan to Bournemouth this season after Francis Coquelin’s injury left him with only two senior central midfielders available in Aaron Ramsey and Granit Xhaka.

Coquelin joined long-term absentee Santi Cazorla and Mesut Ozil on the sidelines and with Egypt’s Mohamed Elneny heading to the African Nations Cup, Wenger is short of options for Saturday’s FA Cup clash against Preston North End.

“Yes, I could use Wilshere now. What looks unfair at some moment in the season is that you know at some stage you could need the player,” Wenger said when asked if he regretted allowing the 25-year-old to leave.

“But even at the start you need to have the right balance between competition and numbers and chances for the player to play. And still today I think it was the right decision for him to go.”

Xhaka has been in the spotlight for the wrong reasons recently after conceding a penalty at Bournemouth on Tuesday and against Stoke City last month.

“He has conceded a few and he has to stop that. But is it really a penalty or not? I think he was unlucky on both occasions. But he has to adapt,” Wenger said.

“You can see in his game he is not a dirty player. Overall I am quite happy with his defensive evolution. He is less spectacular in his tackling and he stays more on his feet.

“He uses his body better to win the challenges and his recovery runs are stronger when the ball goes behind him. Before he was a little bit in the moon.”

(Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond)