Arsene Wenger insisted he had little choice but to field a weakened side as Arsenal were dumped out of the FA Cup.
The Gunners went down 3-1 at the Britannia stadium in a fourth round tie, and boss Wenger conceded that his youthful side could not cope with Stoke's physical style.
But with crucial Premier League games against major rivals Aston Villa, Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool in a 14-day spell coming up, Wenger clearly was concentrating on his club's title ambitions.
"I do not regret the side I put out, I did not have much choice. We had 10 injuries and a very difficult programme coming up," said Wenger.
"The game was more physical than technical, and physically they were stronger than us in a very simple game.
"We were exposed to a fight, and some of our players were a bit young and could not cope with it.
"Our selection was simple, take a look at our schedule and you must see we cannot play the same 11 every time. That is for sure.
"But if you do not win in such situations, it is my fault. I can only stand by the team I selected in the circumstances, we lost but there was not much room for manoeuvre in terms of players available."
Wenger joked: "I wanted to avoid a replay, that is why I sent on three experienced substitutes all together. And yes, it worked, didn't it. We have not got a replay!
"We have four very important games now in a short space of time, that is what we are focusing on.
"I wanted to win the game, and the cup. We didn't want to go out, but it was the sort of game that had we played at home we would probably have got away with it (fielding that team). But away from home it was a bit more difficult."
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