Arsene Wenger admits Arsenal’s injury crisis has given the Gunners’ rivals the edge in this year’s title race.
With 14 games gone, Wenger’s side sit eight points behind Barclays Premier League leaders Chelsea.
The Gunners halted a streak of three straight domestic losses with a 2-0 victory over Stoke at the Emirates Stadium.
The win came at a price though as William Gallas (hamstring), Emmanuel Eboue (muscle), Armand Traore (hamstring), Andrey Arshavin (ankle) and Tomas Rosicky (groin) all picked up injuries during the match.
With Wenger’s squad already hit by injuries to the likes of Kieran Gibbs and Robin van Persie, the Frenchman admits Arsenal’s rivals have had much more luck than them with injuries this campaign.
“We pick up more injuries than the other big teams, that is true,” Wenger said.
“You cannot say there is not a reason for it but we have not found it yet.
“It’s the worst season for injuries for us. And they are all in the same area - in the offensive side. Last year it was in the defensive side.”
Czech Republic midfielder Rosicky’s injury was a particularly cruel twist to the 29-year-old’s season.
Before the season began, the £6.7million signing had spent the previous 18 months sidelined with a series of knee and hamstring injuries.
Rosicky has struggled to regain his fitness and has been a bit-part player in his 13 appearances.
It is likely that Wenger will now have to do without the former Sparta Prague player for up to a month.
“He’s devastated and I am as well,” Wenger said.
“It’s a vicious circle when you have been out for a long time. Eduardo had not played for 18 months, Tomas has not played for 18 months,” the 60 year old said.
“When you come back, one or two games, your body has to get used to producing the energy levels again and it’s difficult. Nobody masters that.”
Arshavin excelled up front in the absence of Van Persie but Wenger admits he may have to enter the market for a striker in January.
“I want to see now if we will be in the same position as we are now at the beginning of January,” Wenger said.
“But let’s not dream too much that in January we will be able to find a world class player, because that is what is needed to improve our squad, and who is not cup-tied in Europe and who is free. You’d need a good Father Christmas for that.”
Wenger rejected rumours linking former Manchester United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy with a move to the Emirates Stadium and denied he was thinking of bringing back Patrick Vieira to north London.
“Vieira is not a striker,” Wenger said. “I don’t think we suffered in midfield (on Saturday) and we have (Abou) Diaby who can come back next week.
“I don’t believe we are especially short there, but we are up front.”