Arsene Wenger is not exactly well known for making early substitutions. In fact, the Frenchman has been regularly criticised by Arsenal fans and football pundits for being a bit cautious in his approach to making changes on the pitch. But the Prof was praised, quite rightly, for his subs on Saturday.
The arrival of Yaya Sanogo for Podolski after an hour changed the shape of the game and even suggested that a 4-4-2 formation might be a useful option for Arsenal in the future. And the double change of Jack Wilshere and Tomas Rosicky injected some pace into the Gunners side while taking advantage of a tiring Hull City, and it was rewarded with the winning goal minutes later.
But the boss has admitted that he took a big gamble in the 3-2 victory, hoping that his players could win it in normal time and avoid penalties. When you think about it, we had lost two of our best spot kickers in Cazorla and Podolski, while Kim Kallstrom, who had slotted calmly in the semi-final was not even on the bench.
Arsenal.com report Wenger as saying, “I had a funny feeling not to go to penalties. 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.”
Well Arsenal fans everywhere are seriously glad that Wenger did go for it. Maybe he will do that a bit more next season. For now, we can bask in the glory of a trophy. COYG….