Arsenal’s first half against Crystal Palace today was as poor a performance as we’ve seen all season, with Unai Emery’s selections causing a few raised eyebrows as we slipped to a 3-2 defeat.
With a hectic schedule and today’s fixture coming just three days after a difficult away fixture in Italy, the manager said he had to protect some of his players from potential injury.
Not for the first time the Spaniard made two half-time substitutions, which did have a positive impact and led to Mesut Ozil’s equaliser – but then Shkodran Mustafi’s error put Palace back in front and we never recovered.
Speaking afterwards, Emery explained his decision making and suggested the same result could have occurred regardless of who he picked.
“In the first half we continued with the three central defenders because I think we can be more consistent with that,” he said.
“In the second half we changed to play with two and we can take more possibilities in the attacking third, in the build up, but defensively we gave them more space to take the transitions.
“Their goals are from set pieces and one second action, but also we know that we can be taking more risks in the second half. But when the score is like that in the first half and we are losing 1-0, I think we need to do that.
“We changed because we are going to play a lot of matches. We have had some injuries, like with Aaron Ramsey, and we need to protect the players.
“For example, Xhaka asked to change in the second half against Napoli and today could’ve played, but with some risk. We need to protect our players and to us other players.
“We are playing with a lot of players and they give us the performance, we lost today but we could also have lost with other players on the pitch.”