Arsene Wenger, whose team slumped to a 2-1 defeat at Stoke on Saturday, fears Arsenal could already be suffering from burnout, with not yet a third of the Premier League season gone.
Wenger shuffled his pack for the match, with four changes from the side that drew 4-4 in an exhausting north London derby in midweek. In their manager's view, the Gunners, facing the prospect of three games in six days, starting with Wednesday's Champions League clash against Fenerbahce, is already starting to see signs of fatigue.
Injuries to Theo Walcott, Emmanuel Adebayor and Bacary Sagna at the Britannia Stadium, as well as a red card for Robin van Persie, are unlikely to ease Wenger's concerns.
"We tried hard to win but Stoke, at the moment, are very sharp physically," he said. "We looked a bit jaded because we have played a lot of games recently.
"At the moment we are suffering. I don't believe it is confidence; we put a lot in on Wednesday night and we play again in midweek in Europe.
"We have very bad injuries. We have Adebayor, Walcott and Sagna as well as one or two others who have knocks, but that's the kind of game we played here. When you are not as sharp, you are less agile and you can't get as quickly out of tackles."
He added: "We had lots of possession against a team who defended very well and was very well organised, but we were not sharp enough to to create chances with the possession we had."