Arsenal Manager Arsene Wenger has defended his decision to substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain during yesterday’s 2-1 defeat to Manchester United.
Oxlade-Chamberlain who moved to the Gunners in the summer in a big money deal from Southampton was arguably Arsenal’s best player before his 74th minute substitution.
The 18-year-old, making his first Premier League start, set-up Robin Van Persie’s 71st minute equaliser during a period when Arsenal had begun to dominate United.
However, the youngster was withdrawn from the action just 3 minutes later and Arsenal lost their momentum further when his replacement Andrei Arshavin allowed Antonio Valencia to steal in down the right and create the winner for Danny Wellbeck.
The removal of Oxlade-Chamberlain was greeted by a chorus of boos from a section of the Arsenal support with Skipper Van Persie also appearing to openly question the wisdom of the change.
“I’ve been a Manager for 30 years and have made 50,000 substitutions. I don’t have to justify every one,” he said.
“I can understand that the fans are upset about the substitution, especially when it doesn’t work, but he had started to fatigue,” Wenger said of his decision to substitute the former Saint’s winger.
“He was sick in the week. Arshavin is captain of the Russia national team. You have an 18-year-old kid making his first Premier League start and a player who’s captain of his country and they are querying the substitution?”
Asked how the defeat affected his team, he added: “It leaves us in a very difficult position.”