Arsene Wenger has revealed that his double substitution in extra-time was a calculated gamble in a bid to avoid a penalty shoot-out.
The Frenchman introduced Tomas Rosicky and Jack Wilshere for the final 15 minutes, and it paid off as their fresh legs helped Arsenal clinch a late winner.
Despite their shoot-out success in the semi-final against Wigan, Wenger did not want a repeat at Wembley on Saturday and did everything to avoid it.
"I tried desperately not to go to penalties because I did not have many players on the pitch who were specialists at it"
“I had a funny feeling not to go to penalties,” the manager said. “I tried desperately not to go to penalties because I did not have many players on the pitch who were specialists at it. I tried to go for it before the end.
“It paid off but we had a horrible feeling for a long time in the game and in the end it was a relief. The job is how it finishes, all the rest nobody cares.
“Especially [taking off] Cazorla [was bold]. I must tell you Ozil I would not have put him on the penalty list, but Cazorla is a serious penalty taker and that’s why I was hesitant.
“I was worried by the decision I was making because I had two strikers on the pitch. Jack is not a penalty taker, Rosicky is not a penalty taker. Giroud had cramp so it was difficult.
“The other problem I had was the hamstring of Gibbs. Before the end of the game, he had a hamstring problem and so I waited as long as possible but I tried to win it before the end.”
Copyright 2023 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.