Arsenal reaction: Arsene Wenger won’t climb down on Oxlade-Chamberlain substitution

Arsenal manager admits regrets after home defeat to Manchester United

Arsene Wenger refused to admit that he had made an error in substituting Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain after Arsenal slipped to a costly defeat to Manchester United.

Wenger made the change shortly after the teenager had set up Robin van Persie’s equaliser, and the 18-year-old was having such an impressive game that the decision to bring on Andrey Arshavin for him was greeted with disbelief by the Emirates crowd.

“I can understand that the fans are upset about the substitutions especially when it doesn’t work. But it means I made the right decision before the game in starting him though,” said Wenger.

“He was starting to tire. He has a tight calf and anyway Arshavin is captain of the Russian national team and you have to justify replacing him with a guy of 18 years old who is playing his second or third game, are you serious?

“We have to accept that fans have their views. I don’t want to come out on every reaction. I have to stand up for my decisions and I do. I am 30 years in this job and have made 50,000 substitutions and I don’t have to justify all of them.”

Wenger also refused to blame Arshavin for his part in United’s winning goal, scored by Danny Welbeck with nine miunutes remaining.

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“We lose together and we win together. I will not blame single players if that is what you expect me to do. If I make a mistake I am sorry. I am like a player, I make mistakes.”

Arsenal remain in fifth place in the Premier League, five points adrift of Chelsea in fourth and 10 behind third-placed Spurs.

“It leaves us in a very difficult position,” admitted Wenger. “We couldn’t afford to lose but there were a lot of positives. The reaction in the second half was good.

“We have some players to come back in the next month and that will make a difference. We have 10 players out and people forget that.”

League action takes a break for the FA Cup next weekend, and after three successive defeats Wenger will be probably be glad. His faltering team need to recover some kind of composure before the trip to an improving Bolton on February 1.