Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Wenger: More thought needed before topping up subs

Arsene Wenger says allowing more substitutes per game is an idea worth thinking about, however, he maintains that more thought needs to go into the specifics of how it might work.

Last week, Pep Guardiola called on FIFA to consider introducing “four, five or six” substitutes to combat the threat of burnout among players.

Having been party to several debates on the matter, Wenger insists that the knock on effects of more changes mean it’s an issue that’s more grey than black or white.

“Six [substitutes] is maybe too many,” said Wenger in his pre-Everton press conference.

“We’ve had that debate many times in Europe. You don’t want to stop the flow of the game too much. We thought about it.

“When you play extra time in the Champions League, we had that debate and it’s not easy because you have to reduce the substitutions then. You cannot have six substitutions.

“We see it in pre-season games. When you change player after player, sometimes you sit together before the game and say, ‘If we make the changes let’s make two by two or three by three’.

“He [Guardiola] has a point. It’s good to think about it but it really has to be a bit sophisticated to improve it.”

Guardiola’s comments were made in light of suggestions that FIFA could increase the World Cup finals to a 48-team format from 2026. A final decision is expected in January.

Wenger said ahead of the game 3-1 win over Stoke that he is unconvinced that this would improve the quality of football at the top level.

“Is that guided for popular reasons? Or is that guided to improve the level of football?

“I’m a bit sceptical, but if somebody can convince me that it will make football better and that we can live with the time it will take to complete the World Cup, I am ready to listen. At the moment, I am not convinced.

“We have moved to 24 teams in Europe, that’s basically 50 per cent of the teams we have in Europe. I can’t see that being a huge improvement on the quality of the game. But 48 teams… we have about 300 teams in the world, the percentage looks that it could be accepted.”

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More subs favours the bigger richer clubs. I think three subs works well, especially if you bring them on around the 70th minute.

Frozen margarita

i think that something like 4th sub for u23 player (=you can sub on u23 player), could be beneficial for young players


i’m not so sure… just means all u23 players would start on the bench

Gooner Chad

The only change I would like to see is a 4th substitution made available for knockout games that go into extra time. Just seems fitting that 3 subs are available for 90 min, then 4 would be nice for 120 to help with said burnout and fatigue. Not too extreme, but a fitting compromise


Let’s not move toward gridiron model – I know that’s a long way from here but it would mean a te could go 3-0 up and withdraw all attackers – it’s not going to help as a spectacle


I would prefer a free sub for head injuries.

Bould's Eyeliner

While the spirit of the idea is good, you lack faith in the scheming ways of players; surely some idiot will claim a head injury and without an MRI there’s really no way to be sure, and a free sub will allow them to waste time.

Mark Hughes

So you’re saying we need to see blood


Typical from u Mark

easy tiger

Let there be blood!!

A Different George

There is a way: allow retrospective punishment for a fake head injury. And the punishment for having played an ineligible player (which is what the extra substitute would be) is forfeiture, recorded as a 3-0 defeat. With that possibility hanging over their heads, even if it does not happen often, very few managers will take the risk.


If a player has been injured in a foul and other player received a card(yellow or red). Then maybe a free sub could be given??


That may just push the managers the other way and force them to continue playing an injured player because of the risk of forfeiture.


It could work if you accept that club doctors are doctors before supporters. Also, I’d suggest that faking a head injury is quite hard. You’d really need to bump your head into something hard before anyone would believe you. Finally most players want to be on the pitch. I can’t recall ever seeing a player forced to leave who was happy to to so…. except maybe Theo (2-0)


Are you saying the current “how many fingers am I holding up?” is flawed?


Plus, some sort of Mourinho will order to his strikers to clash their heads and bring on couple of Fellainis to defends crappy one nill lead.

A Different George

Luckily, there is only one sort of Mourinho.


His point about pre-season games as a reference is a good one. 6 subs just completely chops the game up and really affects the rhythm in a weird way. Almost like starting the game from scratch, makes you realise that most games build up a flow and intensity without you really noticing it.

Aside from that it’s easy to see how it could be abused. Imagine Pulis 1-0 up with 6 subs at his disposal. Would often have 4 substitutions available to him for the express purpose of running clock down.

Heavenly Chapecoense

It will only be a gift to very rich clubs. They can have world-class players on the bench while other teams have second-grade players as replacements. Arsenal does not have second-grade players of course.

Oor Wullie

Defo should be an extra sub’ allowed in extra-time.

David C

and blood substitutions like rugby. Other than that, it’s all good.


You should have 2 tactical subs and unlimited injury subs.
injury subs must be followed by at least a two match hiatus for the subbed player to prevent abuse..

Revert to 2 tactical subs and 1 injury sub for finals and last two weeks of season
Problem solved.


We couldn’t start with an extra substitute for matches that go to extra time, with the condition that they are introduced after 90 minutes or at half time of extra time, so as to not interrupt the flow.

Lord Bendtner

Screw this, I’m still thinking about Bayern ?


Yeah Pep would say that, if my system was so shite I wish I could just erase it and start again,

Crash Fistfight

He’s already shown through his managerial choices that he wants the rule to be “whatever makes it easier for Pep’s team to beat the little guys” so as to minimise competition.

Art Vandelay

Yeah Pep’s system useless. What’s it won him eh?


Yeah what has his useless system won him that tony pulis couldn’t replicate if he had inherited the best barca squad ever assembled and then the best squad bayern munich ever assembled. Magic Pep’s first summer Squad Víctor Valdés (VC) Martín Cáceres Gerard Piqué Rafael Márquez Carles Puyol (captain) Xavi (VC) Eiður Guðjohnsen Andrés Iniesta (VC) Samuel Eto’o Lionel Messi Bojan José Manuel Pinto Thierry Henry Seydou Keita Sylvinho Gabriel Milito Dani Alves Alexander Hleb Éric Abidal Touré Yaya Albert Jorquera Pedro Sergio Busquets Víctor Sánchez Edmílson Zambrotta Dos Santos Thuram Ezquerro Deco Ronaldinho Henrique Oleguer Crosas then he inherited the triple wining bayern… Read more »

Frank Bascombe

You put a fair bit of effort into that response.


More effort, I’m sure, than Pep required to win a hatful of trophies with that ridiculous squad.

Frank Bascombe

No doubt you’re a killer on FIFA.




FFS is a 25 man squad (plus the younger players) not enough?? Football is just fine from where I’m sitting, leave it alone


Not even talking about squad size mate


One extra sub allowed for matches which go to extra time/pens (only usable once ET begins). Would not have an huge impact but may help. Last thing you want are managers disrupting the flow of games with ‘tactical substitutions’


Exactly imagine Mourinho making 6 subs one at a time the last 10 minutes while being 1-0 up


What about a maximum of six subs allowed during halftime/game, with a limit of three during the game? (to avoid disrupting flow)


Having six substitutes can work I guess. Two at half time so as not to disrupt play with the normal three that are usually used in the second half. The sixth to be allowed to come on at the point of extra time being played in domestic cups or Europe.

More importantly, please sort out video refereeing to stop diving and cheating and refs making cock ups every week.


Pep is just looking for a way to allow more minutes for all the expensive players his employers will buy. Right now, maybe city can’t attract as many star players because of the playing time issue.

I rony

Time wasting would be ridiculous


So now you need to change the rules when you are not winning the league with unlimited funds?

3 subs is and has been the right amount. Rather get rid of EFL cup if there are too many matches or introduce a winter break.


3 subs is fine. I can understand the call for an extra one if the game goes into extra-time, but, personally don’t think it necessary as that is a given before any cup type game that ET is a thing. As a manager you would have to, as they currently do, plan for such eventuality. Blood substitutes is a reasonable idea. Especially in those high intensity games where a player gets injured after all subs are used and can only hobble at best as it keeps the game competitive. However, if a player is injured and their are still subs… Read more »


You could always stick to 3 game inytrruptions per team with a cap of 4 to six players changed per interruption period.

Meaning more than one player on per sub period. I think 4 players per team is more reasonable than being able to switch over half the players on the pitch during 90 minutes.


I meant 4 to 6 playefs per game, max of 3 interuptions.

Damn edit


Considering the options Pep bought in, it won’t be helping him much to have the extra subs. In absence of Aguero, they are reliant on young Ineacho and maybe Nolito as strikers. That cretin McMannaman still harping on about how Arsene needs to buy a striker when we have the OUTSTANDING Alexis, the excellent Giroud, the developing Lucas AND Welbeck to come. Our range of options and variety in terms of strikers is far greater than City’s. YOu look at what Pep bought in to (Essentially Hype) in Stones in their back line. IN absence of Otamendi and Kompany, they… Read more »


The players are getting better and stronger, covering a bigger area. Consequently, the play is getting tighter and more hectical and physical. I would have preferred 9 or 10 players, to get space and elegance back. Keep 3 subs.


Do hockey style subs as an experiment. On the fly Gives the 4th official something to do and will end the tedious slow walk off.


I do like the idea… I play hockey (field hockey) and its great being able to sub without an umpires permission. Hockey has a few rules around subs.. for example you cant sub during a Penalty Corner for example, but all other times you sub freely. This does not affect the flow of the game and infact forces players and management to make the subs at the right times… for example why sub a defender when the opposition ahs the ball and are attacking it leaves you weak back there.
I support it fully!


I agree with Arsene, on extra subs if there is extra time. I think the 3 sub system is the fairest for league matches.


Do hockey style on the fly subs as an experiment. Gives the 4th official something to do and will end the tedious slow walk off.


Sounds like UEFA trying to make football like American sports. Lots of pause and tv commercials..maybe 4, or 5subs are works better, if extra sub is only allowed if its 2players at a same time


No system is perfect, including the current one. We can’t throw out the idea of additional subs because we think some managers will game the system to their advantage or because it might incentivise managers to use subs in a different way tactically. We have to show that this would be *worse* than the current system. There are clear cases in the current system where players are forced to play on or a team is down to ten men because of injury. My take is that this is the worst outcome and needs fixing. I think there have been some… Read more »


I would fancy a fourth-sub at extra time in a cup competition, otherwise, no way!


3 Outfield substitutions + 1 sub allowed at half time? (No additional time wasting + flow disruption).

1 Addition substitution allowed if the match progresses to Extra Time?


Won’t matter to Arsene even if it’s 10 subs… the first will always go on in the 64th minute..
man he must really likes those digits..

keith comley

Unfortunately my son is a rather good (premiership) hockey player, yes, I watch some of the matches! They have a 16 man squad, 11 playing at any one time. Rolling subs. Traditionally subs were used in rotation for the forwards who sprint a lot more than defenders and used to stretch the defenders. During the last 2-3 seasons tactics have changed slightly with the wide defenders becoming like football’s wing backs, traditionally the wide defenders were more playmakers, in the Rainer Bonhoff style. It leads to a lot of pattern changes. Also they have a sin-bin arrangement, with players off… Read more »

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