Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta was adamant that he made his substitutions at the right time during the disappointing 1-1 draw with Slavia Prague on Thursday night, despite coming in for criticism in the immediate aftermath.
The Gunners have left themselves in a tricky situation going into the second leg in Prague after conceding an injury-time equaliser to a Tomas Holes header.
The home side only took the lead in the 86th minutes through Nicolas Pepe after struggling to dominate the game, but certainly creating the best chances, with Alexandre Lacazette especially missing a golden opportunity.
With his side struggling to break the deadlock, Arteta chucked on Gabriel Martinelli in the 73rd minute and both Pepe, Mohamed Elneny and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang five minutes later.
It was enough time for them to make a difference, but the one goal they conjured up was not enough to secure victory and it seemed that Arteta had left them on the sidelines too long.
Arsenal legend Ian Wright tweeted: ‘Take the chances! Make the subs earlier! Finish the tie.’
However, Arteta was not ready to accept a mistake, insisting it was the right thing for the game and the competition as a whole to hold tight.
‘No, we know we have the possibility to change things with the five subs,’ the Spaniard told BT Sport on the possibility he waited too long to make changes.
‘We believed it was the right time for the set-up that they had, it was the right moment to do it.
‘They had a big impact. If we want to win this competition the subs have a lot to say and they made an impact that we need.
‘Unfortunately we didn’t capitalise at the end with the result that we wanted.’
Asked again in the post-match press conference for an assessment, Arteta had softened a little bit, saying that no one will ever know what earlier substitutions would have meant.
‘Well we made them when we believed it was the right time to do it,’ he said. ‘Whether we should do it before or not who knows.’
Arsenal now go to Prague next Thursday with it all to do to make the semi-finals of the Europa League.
For more stories like this, check our sport page.