Mikel Arteta left some key Arsenal players out of the equation against Manchester City, but there’s a better reason for that than you’d think.
Naturally, after such a catastrophic match, Arsenal fans are out in force questioning Mikel Arteta‘s decision-making against Manchester City, particularly the exclusion of some key players like Mesut Ozil, Nicolas Pepe, and Alexandre Lacazette.
In their stead, Arteta erred on the side of youth, sending Joe Willock, Bukayo Saka, and Eddie Nketiah. As I’ve said countless times already, these three youngsters were not at fault for the result. Nketiah was lively, Saka was Saka and while I would have liked to have seen more from Willock, Xhaka’s injury set the midfield back.
But for those desperate for a reason to complain, the fault of the match may have rested with Arteta apparently “making a statement” to Ozil, Pepe, and Lacazette by benching them.
Mikel Arteta wasn’t wrong leaving trio of Arsenal stars out
Or, the more sensible and less dramatic reason is just that, having just come back from a three-month break, Arteta knew that match fitness was going to be lacking. I mean, he lost one guy for the rest of the season and nearly lost another.
Why throw everyone out there when you know some need to be preserved for the weekend, in a match that we absolutely have to win?
Arsenal had the resources to stand up to Manchester City. Individual mistakes let them down. That’s all there is to it. There is nothing that Pepe, Ozil, or Lacazette would have done that Willock, Saka, and Nketiah couldn’t have achieved if David Luiz hadn’t gifted City two goals.
This was a practical decision and we will see more practical decisions against Brighton when Ozil, Pepe, and Lacazette are in the starting XI because playing two matches in three days is kind of crazy and it takes a lot out of the legs. Especially coming back from a three-month break.
Remember, just because we lost to City doesn’t mean that all of the work we’ve put in since Arteta took over is undone. By all rights, he shouldn’t even be in charge yet. This is all the prequel to his actual reign. And even factoring in this loss, we’re still among the best in the league since he took over the club.
Plus, no one can predict how to operate around a pause. It’s a factor no one should ever have to deal with. So just chill out and let Arteta do his thing.