Mikel Arteta refuses to give up on Arsenal’s chances of finishing in the Top Six of the Premier League table, with the Gunners just six points behind Liverpool who are currently in 6th, but he knows that his team will have to put together a good run of winning form to try and overtake the teams above us.
So, despite having just had an intense gruelling game against Benfica on Thursday, he now has to prepare the team to face high-flying Leicester, currently in Third, to try and get some winning form back in the League after only winning one of their last six.
But surely he cannnot play the same team that won in Athens, but can’t risk making wholesale changes and gifting the game to the formidable Foxes?
The name on everyones lips of course is Bukayo Saka, who has been by far our best player this season, but the 18 year-old has also played more minutes than any other outfield player. So it was no surprise that Arteta was asked if it was time to give the youngster a rest. He replied: “At some point, ideally, yes,”
“On Thursday night at some stages in the game, we were thinking about that, because you can see it.
“It is not only him, there are a lot of players who have played so many minutes, you could see the Benfica players and you could sense the fatigue and the changes they had to do straight away.
“But obviously when things go well the energy that creates sometimes overcomes fatigue, and I prefer not to talk too much about fatigue.
“If we have to rest players, we have to rest them, because we have to keep them fit as much as possible but as well you have to develop that mental toughness that you need when you are in competitions you want to win.”
So Arteta has left it open, but he could maybe put Saka on the bench and bring him on later if we are in need of a boost, but can he afford to not play his very best team from the start? Knowing that they will have a full weeks rest afterwards?
What would you do if you were Arteta?