Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says the club could have done more to prevent Aaron Ramsey's injury on Boxing Day, which left the Welshman out of action for over four months.
After returning to the Gunners' first team in the spring, the midfielder was among the scorers as they overcame Hull City 3-0 at the KC Stadium in the Premier League on Sunday.
"Maybe we overplayed him a little bit," said Wenger his post-match news conference. "We should have rested him before he was injured."
The win keeps Arsenal in the driving seat for Champions League soccer next season but Ramsey's thigh injury struck when the club was still on top of the table.
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Without him, the Gunners have dropped 20 points in the second half of the season and Wenger is left ruing what might have been had the 23-year-old stayed fit.
Also in the Arsenal starting lineup was Mesut Ozil, who had not played since the loss to Bayern Munich in March. The German was also in top form against Hull and, along with Ramsey, earned praise from the manager.
"Ramsey and Ozil give us a cutting edge in the final third — that makes us look much more dangerous," Wenger said. "Football is down to the quality of the players and we could see that today.
"The timing of Ozil's passes, the incisiveness of his passing, makes you turn quickly from defense to offense and that is very important."
Arsenal has to play Newcastle, West Brom and Norwich City in league action before the end of the season. The Hull game was, perhaps, the most testing — on paper — of their remaining fixtures and Wenger is satisfied to have overcome Steve Bruce's men.
He continued: "We knew we had to win today. There was much more oil in the engine again. I believe we looked dangerous when we went into their half and took advantage of that. If you look at our individual performances all over the pitch, they were good."
Despite Arsenal dropping down the standings in 2014, Wenger believes that first-place Liverpool has had advantages not available to his side.
"Liverpool played very well in the second part of the season and you would not like to take anything away from them," he said, "but they could only focus on the Premier League. The injuries — the players we missed — plus the schedule we had, it was much more heavy than Liverpool."
Arsenal will face Hull again in the FA Cup final May 17 at Wembley but Wenger feels that this league game will have no bearing on the outcome of that encounter.
"What is important is that we finish as strong as we can in the Premier League," he said. "The FA Cup final will be completely different."
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