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Arsene Wenger has revealed that fear of going down to ten men saw him make an unplanned change against Crystal Palace.

With 30 minutes left, Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain, who had surprisingly been dropped from the starting line-up, was brought on for Francis Coquelin as the Gunners protected a 2-1 lead.

Coquelin had already been booked by the referee and Wenger insists that pressure from the home crowd threatened to see the Frenchman sent off for another foul.

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“Every time he intervened, the crowd were behind it and put the pressure on the referee. I felt that it was 60 minutes played, I didn’t want to take him off but I didn’t have much room,” Wenger said.

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Coquelin has never been issued a red card during a match for the Arsenal first team

Arsenal’s much-praised defensive midfielder received some criticism on Sunday for not being cautious and lucky to escape a red card, but Wenger disagrees.

“I don’t believe so  (that deserved to be sent off). He didn’t deserve a yellow card. The pressure was on to get him sent off. I had a hesitation at half-time but I felt that the pressure was already there. After the last foul I thought there was not much room for a decision.”

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