Olivier Giroud made way for defender Gabriel Paulista after Per Mertesacker’s red card.
The picture above showing the reaction of a section of Arsenal supporters to Olivier Giroud’s first-half substitution illustrates exactly what they thought Arsene Wenger’s decision.
Arsenal versus Chelsea often throws up controversial decisions, yet there was nothing disputable about Per Mertesacker’s 19th minute red card for chopping down striker Diego Costa.
The Brazilian-born striker was played in on goal by a slick through-ball and without hesitation, Mertesacker made a last-ditch lunge in an attempt to win the ball but ultimately came up short.
Referee Mark Clattenburg issued a straight red card, and boss Arsene Wenger was left with a difficult decision as to how he fills the void left by the towering German defender.
Either Joel Campbell or Theo Walcott appeared to be the obvious choice, yet instead Giroud’s number 12 came up on the board much to the amazement and shock of the home support.
The photo above illustrates perfectly the reaction to Wenger’s decision – a mixture of shock, ironic laughter, smirks of bewilderment and simple look of disgust from one or two.
In the opening 19 minutes, Giroud’s first-touch, vision and link-up was simply superb.
Yet, he was the man replaced by Gabriel Paulista, and soon after Chelsea found themselves 1-0 up due to Diego Costa’s neat close-range finish from a quick cross from out wide.
To make matters worse, Giroud’s obvious threat in the air and from set-pieces was exactly what the Gunners needed the moment the visitors took the lead and everybody in the stadium knew it.
As it happened, the hosts huffed and puffed and even with the introduction of Alexis Sanchez they failed to recover, missing the opportunity to regain their spot at the top of the Premier League table.