Arsenal striker Alexandre Lacazette was dropped to the bench for Wednesday night's (13 December) clash with West Ham United due to Arsene Wenger's fears regarding overworking his record signing as he seeks to fully shake off a groin issue.
The French international was limited to just an eight-minute substitute cameo at the London Stadium as compatriot and Les Bleus rival Olivier Giroud, whose excellent late header off the bench rescued a point against Southampton on Sunday, was given the nod for a goalless derby draw that saw the Gunners slip to seventh in the Premier League with their winless run now at three matches.
Lacazette has scored eight goals in 17 appearances since joining Arsenal from Ligue 1 outfit Lyon in a £46.5m ($62.5m) deal in July, although looked like he was set for a "while" on the sidelines after being substituted at half-time of the 5-0 thrashing of Huddersfield Town last month due to a groin injury.
Wenger was initially adamant that the 26-year-old would miss the subsequent contest with Manchester United as a result of that problem, although, much to counterpart Jose Mourinho's bemusement, he ended up scoring and playing the full 90 minutes of a 3-1 defeat at the Emirates Stadium after making a surprisingly quick recovery.
Speaking before the meeting with West Ham, Wenger insisted that Lacazette had been playing through an injury and he thought it best to leave him out last night as he no doubt seeks to keep the player fresh for a busy run of festive fixtures that will see his side face Newcastle United, Liverpool, Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion before 2018.
They are due to face the improving Hammers again next Tuesday [19 December] in the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup.
"Lacazette, despite all that was said, I played him a little bit with his groin problem and I don't want to go overboard," Wenger explained to BT Sport. "Olivier Giroud is doing well as well and I repeat that Giroud is a regular player for us. He came on the other day and gave us a point again."
Arsenal showed four changes in total against West Ham, with academy graduate and cup regular Ainsley Maitland-Niles making his maiden top-flight start as Wenger switched to a four-man defence for the first time all season. Alex Iwobi was also drafted in as Per Mertesacker, Sead Kolasinac and Aaron Ramsey all made way.
However, undoubtedly the headline piece of team news came with Jack Wilshere being handed his first Premier League start for Arsenal in 19 months.
Assessing the midfielder's impressive performance after the full-time whistle, Wenger said: "Jack did very well overall for a first game, especially in the first half. He could add some sharpness but he defended well as well. For a first game, it's satisfying."