Arsene Wenger has come under a lot of criticism of late for taking central striker Olivier Giroud off and replacing him with centre-back Gabriel Paulista, after defender Per Mertesacker was sent off in their 1-0 defeat to Chelsea FC.
Giroud himself sported a look of utter dismay, as the fourth official held up the substitution board that indicated that Wenger wanted to bring the France international off to give more protection to his defence. Left without an out-and-out striker on the pitch, Wenger moved winger Theo Walcott to the centre forward zone, a role that the Englishman has played before.
This change rendered the Arsenal FC attack rather one-dimensional, and their bitter rivals Chelsea FC found them quite easy to deal with. This is why Wenger was criticised quite a lot for making this change. However the Frenchman has also hit back at his critics, and has even gone on to rationalise his decision to take Giroud off.
“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,” Wenger was quoted saying on Arsenal FC’s official website. “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.”
Was Wenger’s decision influenced by Terry’s presence?
One thing that Arsene Wenger could have been trying to do is to exploit the presence of Chelsea FC captain John Terry in the Blues’ defence. Terry has never been a centre-back known for his pace, and at the ripe old age of 35, does struggle to get around the pitch fluidly. Although the defender compensates for the lack of pace with his exceptional ability to read the game, when thrown against someone as fast as Theo Walcott, Terry could struggle. However, the old Chelsea FC warhorse proved yet again why he is still considered one of the best defenders in the league, as he helped the Blues keep their clean sheet.