Arsene Wenger has admitted that he couldn’t afford to take a gamble against Lincoln City and that’s part of the reason he played an almost full-strength side against the Imps.

Wenger surprised a few people by naming a lineup almost identical to the one that had crashed and burned so badly against Bayern Munich earlier in the week.

Petr Cech replaced the injured David Ospina and Kieran Gibbs replaced Nacho Monreal in the only changes to the starting lineup.

“I didn’t want to gamble today,” Wenger explained, “because I knew that it was very important to win the game and I felt as well that the team had performed well against Bayern and I wanted to give them a chance to find their confidence back by winning the next game.

“That’s why I maintained 90 per cent of the players in the starting line-up. They have been hit very hard after the game [against Bayern] and that is always dangerous because your confidence can go very quickly.

“We were a bit nervous because your confidence drops when you don’t have the results. The team was unjustifiably criticised for our last game against Bayern Munich because we had an outstanding game.

“The game was killed not by the fault of the players but we have to take a distance with us and have a look at a bigger perspective than people want to do. Overall we had to respond today and that’s what we did.

“We had an outstanding game against Bayern Munich but our game was killed by the referee. I watched this game three times now and it’s still the referee who killed our game.”

“I’m always focused on the next game.

“Overall I am of course happy that we won the game today, but I know that what is in front of us is more important. To keep the team focused, we go to West Brom and after we have an international break. It’s important, we’ve lost some ground with some teams at the top.”