Saturday, July 13, 2024

Arteta admits return to old rules makes for selection headaches

Mikel Arteta says picking his squad is increasingly difficult following the decision of Premier League clubs to return to three substitutions and cap matchday numbers at 18.

Following football’s restart, FIFA, wary of players buckling physically under the weight of fixtures, afforded domestic clubs more flexibility by introducing rules to allow for five substitutions and squads of 21.

The rules, which brought a new dimension to in-game tactics, could have been adopted for another year, but were twice voted down in meetings this summer after suggestions they unfairly benefitted the bigger clubs.

Managers now have to think a little harder about who makes the cut. At Craven Cottage yesterday, Arteta left out the likes of William Saliba, Reiss Nelson, Emile Smith Rowe, Matteo Guendouzi, Cedric Soares and Mesut Ozil. Given the club have a number of injured players, even more face disappointment further down the line.

Asked about competition for places – specifically about how Willian’s presence might motivate record-signing Pepe – Arteta touched on the wider issue.

“Well, it’s not for Nico, I think it’s for the players that were today on the bench and as well the ones that we had to leave at home,” he told his post-game press conference. 

“If they raise their levels then the performances of the team and club are going to improve and this is what I demand from them.

“I’m really happy with all the boys and the way they’re training, but selection is getting more complicated and with this new rule of just having only 18 players in the squad makes it very difficult.”

The decision to start Willian certainly paid dividends at Craven Cottage with the Brazilian playing a part in all three of Arsenal’s goals. The mere presence of the 32-year-old raises the bar in attack, according to the boss.

“We knew that Willian was going to give us performances straight away,” he told Arsenal Digital.

“It’s difficult at the moment to pick the right players up front because there is so much competition, but that’s going to raise the level of the team.

“My job is to try to get everybody at their highest level and doing their best. We have some other examples with Mo, with Rob, with Ainsley as well, they are at their best at the moment and that is going to make it difficult for the rest of the team.”

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The highest performer for the team plays AND the one who holds the highest ethos gets a chance to be the highest performer.


Tony Adams would tell Wenger when he was and wasn’t playing.
Vieira was said to be very poor in training.
Judging too heavily on training is stupid. Better players can get left out and worse ones picked.
Arteta seems overly obsessed with “attitude”


Think you misunderstood. I simply mean whoever performs best and doesn’t disrupt club ethos is a definite starter. A talented but toxic player would not be entertained. The players you mention weren’t toxic. Had some issues here and there but don’t we all. For instance, with all the info lately on Sanchez it seems the club wasn’t as keen as well due to him disrupting the team’s unity. Rather than mentor or flat out ask for a transfer and remain respectful he became childish. And for once got what he deserved. His admission recently made me so happy I almost… Read more »

The Kolkata Gooner

Well, the attitude has been rotten at our club for too long and I can bet that no one in our squad who is not training 100% will be even half as good as a Vieira in a match.


I agree with you mate


So what happens if Auba doesn’t give 100% in training?


Training’s important but I would suggest if you’re scoring every week you’re likely to play until that stops

Eternal Titi Berg Pat Nostalgia

Vieira’s teammates used to say he wasn’t good in training sessions.


Yeah i’ve seen Henry say the same about himself in training.
Saving the intensity for the match..


He puts Holding at LW. Look at the skill he showed when we got into the attacking third!

Gunner J

Rob Holding, you knoooooow, He is better than Ronaldooooo!!!!!


He has Steve Bould’s hair for whatever that is worth


I’m surprised that Steve hasn’t demanded he give it back.

Public Elneny

I think it’s probably more like when you’re out of the team, training at 100% over an extended period will get you back in contention. But once you’re in the team, it’s what you contribute on the pitch that decides whether you’ll stay there

I’d argue that when you’re 31, it’s probably a bad idea to train at max intensity when you’re also starting 2 games a week

olatunde aderoju

If he doesn’t, then he’s not playing. You see, Auba is right now our talisman, but when the chips are down , you will see the least expected springing surprises.

Man Manny

What a season Arsenal is going to have with this attitude.
If we bring in Partey and/or Aouar, we may surprise the world with a title challenge.


One game over and it’s a possible title challenge. I really think we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves, aren’t we? I’m sure that clubs like Liverpool, City, Chelsea, Utd probably have a “positive” attitude as well – particularly those clubs which have won the PL recently so we’ll have to grind out the results and hope they don’t.

Uba Ngenegbo

If we bring in Aouar and Partey, we will challenge got the title and certainly finish in the top four. Take that to the bank.


We won’t have money for both. One maybe.

Bergkamp 3:16

It must be ingrained into every current and future player that it is a privilege to play for our beloved club. For far too long we have been circled on by parasitic agents and vulture like players feasting on us like a dying caucus. With each of them taking their pound of flesh to the detriment of team cohesion and fan unison. Arteta thank you for restoring the pride in our shirt. I personally have no preference for who starts; I only ask that they put in a performance to the best of their ability. Completion is a good thing.… Read more »

SB Still

Agree? Given all the uncertainties like the possibility of players catching the virus at any time, plus the need for rotation given the shortened season to play the full set of competitions, I think everyone will get a fair amount of playing time. Despite the competition for places, particularly in midfield, we’ll need the players to (be able to) contribute and can’t afford to freeze out players like Guendouzi. They need to be replaced if not suitable. The injury situation with CBs could easily be the situation with the midfielders in the middle of the season (fingers crossed ? it… Read more »


Regarding Guendouzi, it appears (from consistent reports anyway) that he’s certainly “not suitable” any longer at least but there doesn’t appear to be any club that wants him – Atletico Madrid are the latest, not wishing to have him as makeweight for a possible Partey deal. If so, what do we do with him? The same argument can be made for a number of other players in the squad including, of course, Ozil. To replace these,they’ve got to go somewhere first.


Perfectly said mate.

Dave cee

This!! Well said. Shirt above player

Arsene's Smirk

Arteta is super super impressive. Seems so confident and real. And all the players seem to want to impress him. Super cool to have ethos around the club again.


A retrograde decision by the smaller clubs and they’ll still pay a price in injuries further down the line.
The drinks breaks were great for helping players recover and benefitted those more intelligent coaches.
The 5 subs also meant that the quality of the game stayed high.


Football missed an opportunity to evolve, now we stocked with the old ways.sad


I am not sure about 5 subs. Imagine if liverpool were to sub firmino by mbappe yesterday against leeds. Top 6 clubs now have the potential to buy top class subs. I am glad it’s 3 subs.


Yeah, I don’t see the advantage of 3 subs really. Upsets the teams rhythm a fair bit, and all squads face the same rules.

Fxture congestion is the issue, I suppose? Still need a deep squad to be able to rotate so so called ‘weaker’ teams are still going to suffer, either way.

Dave cee

Yeah but even with 3 subs Liverpool could have subbed Mbappe for Firmino, if they had him of course

Robert H

“What if the best player in the world would be the 4th or 5th sub for a team” is one of the weirder comments I’ve ever read here. Mbappe would instantly be the best player in the PL, what is goongot thinking?

Wiltoooooooooord !!!

If Liverpool sub firminho with mbappe.. we would too, damn right we would..

but the bigger question is, apart from PSG, do we all get one mbappe each?

Arteta Tots

On the contrary, I think 5 subs benefit small clubs more as bigger clubs find more attacking holes late in the game when opponent legs tire. Having 5 subs allow clubs to consistently defend deep and defend with energy, giving less attacking chances to the supposedly big clubs

Vaibhav Pandey

I agree, in fact there no scientific evidence which suggests that 5 subs benefit the bigger clubs. The sample we have is too small to find anything meaningful. Just for this season FA should have given option of 4-5 subs.

Tanned arse

Chances are, players will fatigue far quicker this season. If these clubs honestly think that rotating players benefits the bigger clubs more they’re really short sighted. It’s the smaller squads that will probably suffer more once their players start dropping. Let’s see who is moaning then when they can’t put out a decent side because they’ve run their players into the ground. Idiots!

Ramrecha raj

How are small clubs affected? Every club will have the same opportunity.

Smaller clubs in the top 5 UEFA leagues tend to have smaller squad sizes, at least that was the case when football resumed after COVID 19. Currently as it stands that’s not really the case because the transfer window hasn’t ended and a lot of last year’s loanees are back at their clubs. When clubs have register their 25 man squad by the end of the transfer window. You’ll find that the smaller clubs tend to loan out more players as they likely feel much of their squad isn’t capable enough to survive a premier league season. This often means… Read more »

Naked Cygan

This is a great problem to have, but once the injuries start to pile up we will need everyone. I would still send Nelson and Wilock on a 6 month loan just to give them more playing time. Not sure what we will do if Leno gets injured. Macey is OK but not tested. To sell Martinez 20 million and buy the Brentford keeper for 10 million is not great business. We should have got an experienced keeper like Joe Hart for free as no.2.

rajesh bummed

No Joe

Harold Walton

Hart is awful….no


Re: keepers, that’s certainly an argument although Raya is competent. Possibly a Joe Hart-type alternative isn’t available – for whatever reason.


My tuppeny bit:

Joe Hart (and any other mid-30’s ‘keeper) has nothing left to prove, and his age now counts against him because he needs regular games to keep his fitness going. Far far better to have an upcoming ‘keeper with the ambition to be No.1 whilst continuing to learn the trade. I think Raya would relish the challenge at Arsenal which would make him a better GK than Joe Hart ever was. Joe Hart will NEVER get any better, so why waste the effort with him?

Dave cee

I’ll disagree only because I don’t think we need another No.1. Would have loved to see Emi stay and fight for that position but in his absence all we need is a solid back up with experience. It worked for Liverpool.
Know nothing about Raya but it just doesn’t feel like the right profile, depends on what he expects from the move and crucially, at this time, the cost.

Naked Cygan

Ray ended Brentfords promotion hopes after he got beat from 40 yards. Joe Hart type keeper would be free given our financial situation. Making 10 million profit on Emi is a joke.

Give youth a chance

If Macey isn’t up to job as number 2, promote Ilyev from the academy side so we can use all the Emi fee on midfield

Dave cee

Lol yeah, you get downvotes for suggesting a spud. Other than that your reasoning is sound 😉

Robert H

Joe Hart was finished 3 years ago. His numbers were almost as bad as Kepa.


Good in a way though – to have selection headaches. I remember the times when if we had to make changes from the “settled” starting eleven, we were probably going to run into trouble because there was no strength in depth.

And really bad eggs...

I find this whole, going back to 3subs because smaller clubs think it will favour the clubs, frustrating. I believe they will eventually go back to 5subs during the season, when half the players in everyone’s squad is injured. I just hope we’re not too badly hit before that happens.

I think so too. I get not wanting a drinks break now that the heatwave is over but it’s the most condensed football season ever. It is clearly going to require different rules. The clubs that voted against keeping the rule are being myopic especially when you consider that most loanees are back at their clubs now.

It’s the best time in a long while to give young players match day experience.


I am a bit worried about this as the players didn’t really have their usual recovery time in the summer. Injuries might pile up with only 3 subs. I agree, though, that in normal times, 3 subs should be the norm.

Dave cee

I’ll be honest and say that for years I have not understood why a club cannot just bring all their players and chose 3 subs from them as the occasion demands. It baffles me. I hear all the time about the FA wanting to give young English players a chance in the PL, well then, let them sit on the bench if the coach thinks they’re good enough and have a chance to play if the opportunity arises. The 7 on the bench rule is just an artificial impediment to clubs and players and I totally disagree with it. To… Read more »

Give youth a chance

Perhaps a rule change to allow 2 additional subs on the bench, provided they are under 21 and ‘homegrown’?

Reality check

Apart from Leno and Auba, no one is safe. Saliba, Ceballos and Pepe will have to work hard to get in. Pepe was really sharp in the training videos, so won’t be surprised if he forces himself back in the team. This is a very timely problem to have, especially with the early rollercoaster ride starting with Liverpool.


No one should be safe even Leno and Auba. Period.


Why not compromise on 4? and 1 has to be in first 45 minutes. And in later 45 only 3. That way only injured ones will be replaced in first half. (as most team don’t want to change before halftime)


I agree on 4. Reasonable these day and age with so many games and no winter break in the UK plus virus impacted quick restart to season.

Teryima Adi

This kind of selection headache has no place for an analgesic for Arteta.

Mr D

Yes Mikel you need to Thomas party to the squad that’s rugged midfield enforcer you have been missing to work with a skillful midfielder. Get your man then you qualify for the champions League it’s as simple as that .


No need.

Elneny good enough for now.

I’m his biggest detractor but he’s come back from loan with good maturity and played the ball out well for us under duress yesterday. Either him or Granit at base or both as an option . Good enough. We don’t have money for two Unicorn signings and we only need one now IMO.

Spend money on Aouar if poss. Balance out Ceballos on left.


I am probably missing something but I have always thought this was a mistake to vote down the 5 subs, smaller clubs usually have smaller squads on top of that they had a busy end to the season, followed by a very short break,and for some busy start of the season with Europa League, different cups.. it won’t be long before we see a lot more injured players on top of the ones already injured,I agree football has missed an opportunity to evolve with the times also substitutions and drinks breaks made for a better spectacle,managers who got their selections… Read more »


Would have like the FA to UEFA to consider 4. Seems reasonable in this day and age. I think if we consider the 25 man squad there should be at least 2 strong players for each position – ……………………………….Laca/Nketiah/Martinelli………………………………… Auba/Saka…………………………………………………………………Willian/Pepe …………………(Aouar*)/Willock…………………..Ceballos/????………………… ……..Tierney/AMN……………………………………………..(Bellerin)/Cedri…….. …………………………………..Granit/Elneny………………………………………….. ………………..Mangalhaes/Mari……………Holding/Saliba……………………….. …………………………………..Leno/????……………………………………………… 1)*I am wishing for Aouar but whoever we may have at LCM. 2)Then an alternate at RCM may be between Smith-Rowe and still potentially Guendouzi…Ozil may not entirely be out of question either Or if all 3 options not good enough do we bring one more in on a loan for numbers? (someone who can… Read more »


Alternative is we keep Nelson with Willian possibly also covering in field right as option to Ceballos if not first pick wide.

…want to see Reiss involved if possible this season.

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