Arsene Wenger defends decision to rest Robin Van Persie

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger defended his decision not to play Robin van Persie from the start against Stoke.

Peter Crouch had cancelled out Gervinho's opener, but Van Persie came on to score a brace and win the game.

"Before you leave him out you think always 15 times 'do I really do it?'," Wenger said.

"But I felt at some stage, and looking at the number of games he has played and with his history [of injuries], you have to be cautious."

The Gunners moved up to seventh in the Premier League with the win, and Wenger revealed his decision to start with his skipper among the substitutes was brought about by a slight injury concern.

"He had muscular tightness, I was not even sure he would be on the team sheet," Wenger added.

"The second half was basically all us, especially after the first 15 minutes, and then the problem was to score goals and Van Persie can do that better than many people, and he did it when he came on.

"He played two full games with Holland and the whole game against Sunderland, he played up front alone in Marseille, so at some stage you have to give them a breather, but up front it's difficult.

"Of course Robin, with his two goals, deserves massive credit but I think Gervinho had a very lively and influential game as well."

Stoke manager Tony Pulis rued Van Persie's introduction as his side slipped to just their third defeat of the season.

All of those losses have come in the weekend after a Europa League clash, but Pulis felt there was little wrong with his team's efforts.

"The lads worked hard," he said. "We've lost three games this season all on the back of Europa games, but if you look at our running stats they aren't far off when we've been winning games.

"Van Persie has come on and changed the game.

"We looked comfortable until he came on, I don't think Asmir [Begovic] had had a shot to save up until then."