Premier League - Wenger defends Ox substitution

Mon, 23 Jan 08:32:00 2012

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said he did not have to justify his substitutions after his decision to replace Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain during the 2-1 home defeat to Manchester United was met with boos.

Arsenal fans boo Wenger

Robin van Persie equalised Antonio Valencia's opener in the second half at the Emirates Stadium, but United regained their composure and ensured they left north London with three points when Danny Welbeck popped up to tap home from close range after Valencia had lost marker Andrey Arshavin.

The Gunners boss faced the unusual situation of having to defend his decision to substitute Oxlade-Chamberlain for Arshavin in the 74th minute, but even captain Van Persie looked at odds with his manager on the decision, appearing to mouth "no" when the board noting Oxlade-Chamberlain's exit was raised by the fourth official.

"I can understand that the fans are upset about the substitution, especially when it doesn't work, but he (Oxlade-Chamberlain) had started to fatigue," Wenger said.

"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? Let's be serious.

"I've been a manager for 30 years and have made 50,000 substitutions. I do not have to justify every decision I make. I stand up for it."

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was delighted to see his team deliver the perfect response to Manchester City's win over Tottenham as the Red Devils stayed within touching distance of the top of the table.

City had pulled six points clear of their rivals after beating Tottenham in a five-goal thriller at the Etihad Stadium and United looked in danger of slipping further behind Roberto Mancini's men when Robin van Persie equalised Antonio Valencia's opener in the second half at the Emirates Stadium.

But Ferguson's team regained their composure and ensured they left north London with three points when Danny Welbeck popped up to tap home from close range after Valencia had lost marker Arshavin.

"We said before the game that winning after City had won their game was the important thing," Ferguson said. We did it in the right way, we played football and were adventurous and had belief in ourselves. I'm delighted with that at this time of the season.

"They are all important games, we have four massive away games and that is one out of the road."

He added: "It was an amazing amount of chances we had, it's always difficult coming to here and Arsenal are a top side. We're a bit disappointed that we only scored twice. The first half in particular was a golden period for us, we should have rammed home the advantage."

PA Sport

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