Arsene Wenger has revealed that Aarom Ramsey did not travel with the Arsenal squad to Brighton and Hove Albion because the Welshman was knackered after playing twice in less than a week against Manchester City.
With Thursday night's crucial Europa League last 16 tie against AC Milan looming large, the Arsenal boss decided to leave out Ramsey, Hector Bellerin and Danny Welbeck at the AMEX stadium.
It's the first time Bellerin has been rested in the league, while Welbeck was also given the time off as he will lead the line at the San Siro due to Alexandre Lacazette's injury and Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang being ineligible to play in the Europa League.
In Ramsey's absence, the Gunners suffered yet another away defeat, losing 2-1 to Brighton on the back of goals from Lewis Dunk and Glenn Murray, making a case for the newly promoted side to stay up in the league. The home side punished Arsenal's defensive slackness, in which Petr Cech was the most glaring culprit, conceding goals which you would expect to be stopped.
The loss was their third defeat in the space of a week and less said about their away form the better as they have now taken only 13 points from 15 matches this season. However, Wenger revealed that keeping his best players out of the firing line was more to avoid injury, given a critical period in their season, with the Europa now their only chance of making the Champions League next season.
"I left him at home because I played him in the two games against City, without a lot of training in behind," Wenger told Arsenal's official website. "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."