As the Premier League season resumes this week, here are five questions that Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta must answer in the next few weeks.
Arsenal’s trip to Manchester City to kickstart the Premier League’s resumption is less than a week away. Mikel Arteta’s side have been training hard in preparation for the return of competitive play. They are as ready as they can be for the race for a Champions League qualification place. Currently sitting in ninth position, with Spurs, Wolves, Sheffield United and Manchester United all between them and the top five, the Gunners have some work to do, starting with Arteta.
Here are five questions the head coach must answer over the course of the next few weeks.
5. How much time are youth players given?
While Arsenal’s focus will be on winning as many games as possible, if and when they are out of the race for the Champions League places, Arteta may turn his team over to a more youthful look as he begins to lay the foundations of the team beyond this season. As Arsene Wenger and Unai Emery did in recent seasons, this is especially likely should they simultaneously reach the semi-finals of the FA Cup.
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At present, Arsenal have a crop of young players who have already proven themselves to be extremely capable under Arteta. Bukayo Saka, Reiss Nelson, Gabriel Martinelli, Eddie Nketiah and plenty others are all pushing hard for first-team minutes. But now that almost every player in the squad is back fit and available, finding minutes for them will be difficult, unless Arteta chooses to weaken his team and rotate.
The starting XI will look something like the following: Bernd Leno; Hector Bellerin, David Luiz, Shkodran Mustafi, Kieran Tierney; Granit Xhaka, Dani Ceballos, Mesut Ozil; Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette, Nicolas Pepe. There is little room for the young players emerging from Hale End. Arteta, then, may have to engineer opportunities for his young talent. God knows they deserve it.