Unai Emery defended his decision to substitute goalscorer Alexandre Lacazette as Arsenal bounced back from their thrashing by Liverpool to beat Fulham 4-1.
The French striker grabbed the Gunners’ second goal in the second half, but was replaced by midfielder Aaron Ramsey with the score at 2-1, soon after the Cottagers’ Aboubakar Kamara reduced the deficit in the 69th minute.
The decision was met by a negative reaction from a large number of home fans.
“I understand the supporters,” said Emery, whose side closed the gap to fourth-placed Chelsea to two points, though Chelsea host Southampton on Wednesday.
“Tactically we thought in that moment we needed to change for more balance. Above all we know Fulham midfielder Jean Michael Seri is coming on and we need a player close to him, not to let him play easily with the ball.
“Ramsey can do that and also help us in attack, and he scored. The reason is this. I need to do my work. And not maybe because every supporter can have a different opinion, tactically.”
The Gunners suffered their heaviest defeat of the season on Saturday when they lost 5-1 at Anfield, but goals from Granit Xhaka, Lacazette, Ramsey and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang helped them to only their second win in six games.
After Ryan Sessegnon had missed two good chances for Fulham, Xhaka put the hosts ahead, finishing past Sergio Rico after a good cross from the impressive Alex Iwobi.
Lacazette doubled the lead when he finished off Sead Kolasinac’s pull-back following a fine Arsenal passing move.
Kamara pulled one back from close range, but Ramsey scored the Gunners’ third after Aubameyang had hit the post.
Aubameyang’s deflected shot gave Arsenal their fourth and a deserved three points.