Arsene Wenger insists that fears of an injury to Olivier Giroud is what forced him to withdraw the striker after only 22 minutes of action on Sunday.
Arsenal went on to concede a Diego Costa goal which proved to be the winner, moments after Per Mertesacker had been dismissed by the referee for a professional foul.
As a result, Wenger’s decision to pick top scorer Giroud as the player to be sacrificed for the introduction of Gabriel has come under scrutiny.
However, the Arsenal manager claims a fitness concern meant that taking off the France international against Chelsea was a necessary move.
“I think [that Giroud was fit] yes , but it was a bit in my mind if he gets injured, with his ankle, he was a doubt, he didn’t practice yesterday and today we declared him fit.” Wenger said after the 1-0 defeat
“It was on my mind. But I had to change a player and I thought that was the most rational decision with all the factors.”
Jeers were heard around the Emirates stadium as Giroud was substituted with his team trailing by a goal, but Wenger has maintained that the crwod’s reaction did not matter.
“You want to make a poll for every decision to see who does what? I made the decision and for me it was quite normal.” he added
“We had to go for long distances and we needed pace to go from one goal to the other. We knew we had to drop deeper and use pace to get forward.”
Tactical moves from the bench by the Gunners boss’ have attracted some criticism in recent games after his side conceded an late equalizer despite the introduction of substitute Mikel Arteta at Liverpool last week.