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Premier League relegation battle

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By ESPN Staff

Wenger defends Ox substitution

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger defended his decision to replace Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with Andrei Arshavin in the second half as the Gunners lost 2-1 against Manchester United.

Wenger's move to replace 18-year-old Oxlade-Chamberlain, who set up Arsenal's goal, with Arshavin at 1-1 drew an angry response from the Emirates Stadium crowd - and captain Robin van Persie.

But Wenger told Sky Sports 1: ''He started to stretch his calf and he had given a lot, he is not used to that intensity.''

Wenger continued his defence of the Oxlade-Chamberlain substitution in a frosty post-match press conference.

''I can understand that the fans are upset about the substitution, especially when it doesn't work, but he (Oxlade-Chamberlain) had started to fatigue,'' he said. ''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.''

However, Wenger admitted the result leaves his team in real danger of not making the top four this season.

''It leaves us in a very difficult position. It's a game we couldn't afford to lose,'' he said.

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