Arsenal will again be without playmaker Mesut Ozil for the FA Cup trip to Championship side Preston North End through illness after not reporting for duty for over a week. The Germany World Cup winner missed the draw with Bournemouth, having also been side-lined for the win over Crystal Palace as fears grow over the severity of his condition.
Ozil remains bedridden and has not attended training for several days though the specific nature of the sickness is unknown. Wenger has not detailed the illness but has ruled him out of the week trip to Deepdale.
"I haven't seen him for a week," Wenger told Sky Sports, according to The Evening Standard. "It was an easy decision [to leave him in London]. "He is still in bed. He's not available and I don't think he will be available for the next game as he hasn't done anything for a week."
In Ozil's absence, Arsenal came back from three goals down to draw with Bournemouth; dropped points which sees the north Londoners lose more ground in a title race in which they are destined to play a peripheral part. Eddie Howe's side outran and outfought their illustrious visitors and came within minutes of grabbing their first ever win over the north London opposition.
Charlie Daniels' smart finish, a penalty from Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser's solo goal had The Cherries in dreamland with 20 minutes left. But Alexis Sanchez and substitute Lucas Perez stuck twice in five minutes, before Simon Francis' dismissal inside the final 10 minutes set up a grand stand finale.
Fresh from his scorpion goal against Palace, Olivier Giroud grabbed the equaliser in the first minute of added on time with a flicked header to see the points shared. If Chelsea beat Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday (4 January) they will go 11 points clear of Arsenal and all but eliminate Wenger's men from the championship picture.
The fixture at the Vitality Stadium came a little more than 48 hours after Arsenal has hosted Palace, while Bournemouth had an extra 24 hours to recover from their win over Swansea City. Wenger was keen to highlight the physical difference between the sides but was willing to praise a battling Bournemouth.
"It was a physical test, he added to Sky Sports. "We had some problems getting out of the blocks. It was very difficult for us to start the game. They started much quicker faster. With 20 minutes to go we were 2-0 down so it was a mental test. We refused to lose the game and after from the first 20 minutes we were always in the game.
"They deserve a lot of credit but the disadvantage is too big. We play against a team who has one-and-a-half days recovery. We played on Sunday late afternoon, it is too big a handicap at the start. They are a good team they played with quality and they looked always dangerous and commitment and that is why the game was difficult. We had some players at half time who had bumps and I change it early in the second half. There is a great resilience in the team and we saw that again today."