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.
“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.
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.”