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Arsenal 0 Bayern Munich 2: Olivier Giroud was 'not dropped as a punishment', insists manager Arsene Wenger

The untested 21-year-old Yaya Sanogo was preferred for crucial clash

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has stated that his decision to drop striker Olivier Giroud for the 2-0 Champions League last-16 first leg defeat by Bayern Munich was not punishment for allegedly sneaking a lingerie model into the team hotel the night before the win over Crystal Palace earlier this month.

The French striker has since apologised to his team-mates, wife and Gunners' supporters for the incident, on the eve of the 2-0 victory over Palace on 2 February, going as far as to claim on Twitter that he did not commit adultery yesterday, but Wenger said Giroud had the strength of character not to be affected by his off-field problems, and he was simply rested for a couple of matches, having played 33 matches in all competitions for the club this season. The 27-year-old also missed the 2-1 FA Cup win over Liverpool last weekend.

Wenger had previously claimed that the club were dealing with the matter "internally".

For the first-leg Champions League fixture on Wednesday night, Wenger made the surprise choice of dropping Giroud, who was an unused substitute, and playing the unproven striker Yaya Sanogo instead.

"It was just a decision based on performance. When I play Giroud in every game, people reproach me from playing him in every game. When I rest him, people reproach me for resting him," Wenger told reporters in his post-match briefing "Tonight I rested him so you should be happy. It was not punishment, it was just a decision tonight. Giroud is a strong character, and what happened doesn't influence his behaviour on the pitch."


The manager added:"I just decided to give him a breather for one or two games, and to give him a chance to come back refreshed. As well I wanted to give an opportunity to Sanogo, and I think he did very well."