The decision came during a week of controversy for the Frenchman.
Wenger said: "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 rested him. 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. 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."
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