• Premier League

Wenger blames 'one tactical mistake' for defeat

ESPN staff
January 22, 2012

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger stood defiant after his decision to replace Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with Andrei Arshavin led to "one tactical error" that cost his side as they slumped to defeat against Manchester United on Sunday.

Arsenal lost 2-1 thanks to Danny Welbeck's 80th minute finish, which was provided by Antonio Valencia after he had shrugged off the half-hearted attentions of Andrei Arshavin.

Arshavin's second-half arrival - replacing the lively Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with the scoreline at 1-1 - was roundly booed when it was announced at Emirates Stadium, and Wenger seemed to acknowledge that it was a decision that ultimately backfired on him, although he defended the thought process behind the substitution.

"When it was 1-1 it looked like we would win but in the end one tactical mistake lost us the game," Wenger told Sky Sports. "I do not want to dwell too much on that now but one second of inattention can cost you."

He did attempt to defend the substitution, however, saying that Oxlade-Chamberlain was starting to tire as the game entered its final stages.

''He started to stretch his calf and he had given a lot, he is not used to that intensity," 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.

''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 to you [the press]. I stand up for it.''

Despite the disappointing manner of the defeat, Wenger attempted to take some positives from the performance as the Gunners look to hunt down Chelsea and secure Champions League qualification with a fourth-place finish in the league.

"Overall I would say we had a great second half," he added. "We had a difficult first half where we were a bit nervous.

"In the second half I thought we had chances to win the game. We made a defensive mistake on the second goal but overall we had a great second half. We created chances, we were a bit unlucky.

"You could see we played under pressure today and it took us 45 minutes to get into the game. In the second half when we played with more freedom we were very dangerous."

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