Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Arteta ready to rest Saka, reflects on squad fatigue

Mikel Arteta admits that Bukayo Saka could probably do with a rest, amid fears of burnout and injury.

The 19-year-old has started 18 of Arsenal’s last 20 Premier League games, completing 90 minutes on 16 occasions. He’s also made cameos off the bench in two FA Cup games since the turn of the year and played the full 180 minutes against Benfica.

Amazingly, even in the closing stages of Thursday’s clash with the Portuguese side, he was still able to make the difference, delivering a second precise assist for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to snatch a late win.

“At some point, ideally, yes,” said Arteta when asked if he might sideline his precocious winger.

“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.”

Asked whether squad fatigue was a concern given the amount of football his side have played in the last 12-months, Arteta was quick to point out that notions of tiredness are often mental rather than physical. As such, he doesn’t want his players using it as an excuse not to do the basics.

“If we have to rest players we have to rest them because we have to keep them fit as much as possible,” he added.

“But as well you have to develop that mental toughness that you need when you are in competitions you want to win.

“That is why if you say: ‘I’m fatigued, I cannot do it’ – no, of course you can do it,” he added.

“There are things and professions that are much harder than ours where people keep on going and going – when someone is running a marathon and chasing somebody.

“There are so many good examples we can use so fatigue is a lot of times mental, because if things go well and you score a goal, I’m sure you will still have the energy to sprint and celebrate that goal.

“But when you have to track someone back, you say you’re tired? I don’t really agree with that, if you are on that pitch – until you are absolutely done – you have to give your best.”

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Saka has certainly carried a load for us this season.


The load


Should get an extra year on his contract and a few more chips in his pay packet.


Is the cloning technology ready yet?


We all need to take in what an incredible load Saka has … to deal with.

santi's thigh grab

Back to the drawing board.


Saka is the only player who is helping us win games. After spending more than 300mn pounds, in last 3 years, Arsenal are now, Saka + 10 players.

Johnny 4 Hats

Just going to throw out this hypothetical I’ve been mulling over (sorry it’s unrelated to the article)…

The board gives us £50m to spend this summer and Zidane agrees to do a special offer for us. He needs cash fast and offers Ceballos and Odegaard to us for £50m.

Do we blow our whole budget on two players who have both still got a lot to prove or look to invest the money elsewhere?

Thumbs up for signing them and thumbs down for sending them back to the sulky monk with a picture of Materazzi on their t shirts.


Arsenal will probably sign ceballos even tho hes bang average.
Fast becoming a bang average club

Johnny 4 Hats

True enough but he’s a good squad player to have around the team. And if Odegaard’s ceiling is really high, it could fill two midfield positions with a good and an outstanding player.

I’d just be a bit underwhelmed because it’s what we have at the moment and it’s not exactly setting the world on fire. But there is a lot to like about Odegaard.

Interesting to see what happens with those two…


Please share the stats that helped you decide Ceballos is a good squad player


My thoughts exactly.

People are actually becoming comfortable with mid table and the Europa League. Unbelievable.

Johnny 4 Hats

Mate, enough with the “fans are happy with mediocrity” narrative.

I’ve never met an Arsenal fan who’s just happy to play Europa football and finish mid table. It’s a total straw man you’re creating there.

It’s just some people see the road back to be a lot longer than others. We can’t sign world class players over and over again and need to be pragmatic with our spending.


I’m an Arsenal fan who’s pretty happy just being an Arsenal fan. I simply let go any expectations and chose to just love Arsenal. It’s easier for my healthier this way.

santi's thigh grab

Same. Found it mentally healthier not to tie my own self esteem or happiness to the team. If we win I’m happy and if we lose, same ole Arsenal and I still have a good day.

Johnny 4 Hats

This site is actually a pretty cathartic way to get stuff off your chest and have a moan after a poor game. And once I’ve listened to Andrew and James say “good morning to you” in wry, lethargic tones, I’m over a bad defeat.

That is until the highlights keep popping up on my YouTube feed.

On the right path?

Goodly morning I believe is the phrase:)

Johnny 4 Hats

Not when we lose/draw.


J4H – I rest my case.

Nacho de Montreal is tasty

Agree but Leicester is doing what we were unable to achieve with a bit less than we spend.


Ditto West Ham.

It Is What It Is

And a chairman who loves the club, and football as a sport, really.


If we’re pragmatic with buying world class players, then we’re additionally being pragmatic with genuine progress. You can’t make chicken soup out of chicken shit. If people are content with the current management, then one has to assume that they’re also content with the club’s current position. It’s all part of The Process. And, I’m sorry, but you can’t back Arteta and be simultaneously pissed off with Arsenal scratching itself in mid table – the man has put us there; the same way as you surely can’t be critical of Arteta and be additionally content with mid table. When I… Read more »

Johnny 4 Hats

This is a really good post. Fair play. Some really good points and I do see where you’re coming from.


Some people are coming from a blinkered viewpoint – for example, MA getting rid of Ozil.

You can feel their joy when AFC do not win games (so their narrative is correct) and their silence when we do win. Love for a player over the club – wouldn’t take it too seriously.


If you’re referring to me, then let me put you straight. Nothing pleases me more than Arsenal winning. I’ve been a supporter and attended games since 1971! I’ve been a season ticket holder since 1984. If you think I have spent the past fifty years of my life wanting Arsenal to lose just so that I can be ‘proved right’ then you are much mistaken, my friend. As for Ozil – I WAS proved to be right. Arteta omitted him from the squad and brought in Willian – and a right fucking pigs breakfast this season has been as a… Read more »


Spot on !!! Nothing else to say 👏👏👏


Thank you, that narrative is so tired.


I’ll tell you what’s tired. Arsenal’s position in the league table. That’s tired. It’s fucking knackered.

I’ve clearly touched a raw nerve or two, but it’s true. Some people are clearly indifferent to the club’s current position.

It’s just an observation, but if the cap fits mate… 😉

Shava Arshavin

Nothing wrong with being a mid-table team. It’s less stressful for the fanbase. We’re too high in the table to fear relegation but too low in the table to contend for top 4. With no real points at stake, we can just enjoy each game individually. 🙂


Ladies and Gentlemen, I rest my case.

Mate, we have no divine right to be top four or top six – but listen to yourself! – we’re Arsenal Football Club. Check out our history; we’re (supposedly) a big club. We shouldn’t be doing mid-table.


Ceballos has quality but is consistently inconsistent. Absolute No Go for me.


I don’t see Ceballos going anywhere else and becoming the player we’d want him to be at Arsenal.

he has flashes of brilliance, interspersed with games that pass him by, injuries and basic errors.


I cannot believe that some people have actually given this the thumbs up (in the context of the post, of course) £50m needs to go on an experienced attacking midfielder of the same calibre as Partey (I know Partey is a defensive midfielder, I’m talking about the quality of player). ESR cannot and shouldn’t be expected to do it all on his own, especially at this early stage in his career. We shall need an experienced guy at the top of his game who can slot in immediately and start doing the business for our forwards from August onwards. From… Read more »


Yeah but who? Who’s out there, with that quality, for £50MM, who is willing to come to a (more likely than not) non-Champions League side, and whose club is willing to sell in a relatively deflated market? Genuinely asking.


Houssem Aouar, Hakan Calhanoglu, Jack Grealish, Christopher Nkunku, James Maddison.

Admittedly some if not all of these guys would cost more in the region of £60m – £70m, but if we’re serious about top four, then that is what we should be prepared to part with. I did say that the £50m in question should be put TOWARDS getting in a top drawer attacking midfielder, I.E. we will probably need to stump up more.

But that should be our top priority this summer – even if we only sign that one player.


Unfortunately the ‘weve got no money’ myth has been bougth by many. Nevermind the fact weve spend the best part of 20 years now penny pinching to pay back our stadium debt. The whole reason we moved was so we could compete but now apparently weve got a 60,000 stadium and a billionare owner but we cant compete with the likes of leicester west ham and villa. And dont come at me with the wage bill shite, every single big club will have players on massive money the same as arsenal and will have spend big on countless players who… Read more »


Spot on mate.

We’ve spent poorly in the past (Willian and Co) but that’s no excuse for not spending big money now.

We don’t have a choice; we’ve now become a mid table club.


Of those, I’d say Grealish is the only one 100% worth in excess of £50mm and gambling our entire summer budget on, but I guess I just ain’t as optimistic as your are that we’d win the bidding war/charm contest to sign him, if he’s available. Everyone else, no thanks at that price—just as much of a gamble as Odegaard for me.


Any of them are better attacking midfielder options than the current shite we have – Ceballos, Willian and Willock. If I’m saying ’No Thanks’ to anything, it no thanks to more of the same next season – mid table mediocrity – which is exactly what we’ll get if we stay as we are. Can Arteta sign Grealish? Perhaps, why not, but money would have to play a big part. We would have to make it worth his while. And if we can splash out good money on crap like Willian, then make no mistake, there’s money to be spent on… Read more »


I would also add, that, at a push, I would also consider taking Odegaard back on loan with a possible view to a purchase.

But that would depend very much on his performances between now and the end of the season. I know it’s early and he’s still settling in, but from what I’ve seen thus far, he’s shown some nice close control but not created much. ‘Bang average’ was the term Alex Scott used.

I’d keep him on a future back burner, but he needs to prove that shelling out £50m+ is going to give us value for money.

Mick Malthouse

Yes to Odegaard. No to Ceballos.


If we’ve got £50m to spend on one player I’d like to see us sign another player who can rotate with Xhaka and Partey as that’s the area I feel we need to prioritise.
I guess we could always see if we can take Odegaard on loan again for next season.


I suspect Odegaard might cost £50m alone, there’s been no indication that Madrid would be looking to do a permanent deal for him.


Offering technical security, ball progression and other such buzz words is not enough really. What Arsenal need is midfielders that can score goals and go past defenders.

I prefer ESR, who has been shunted out on the wing for some reason.


I don’t think we’ve seen enough of Odegaard to know how good/great he is… does he have potential – it seems so but who really knows? As for Ceballos, I feel he is a good player but not a great one. So would I positively back securing both for 50m? The first thing I’d say is that 50m isnt a lot of money. You are not going to get 2 amazing players for that kind of budget. So I guess the question is, could we do better for that money in the market? My answer, unlikely. So I think it’s… Read more »

santi's thigh grab

Agree with your last para. So with that in mind, I would not purchase Ceballos and my fear is Øde price would be north of $30m. He’s a prospect right now, and I’m unsure whether he’s worth that much. Remember, he doesn’t tackle, just pressure and that means he’s a bit of a passenger. I would prefer a CAM like ESR who actually tackles to win the ball back. I would reject both players, and look for 2 young two-way creative types. If you could get Øde for less than $30, that would be a good deal.


You’re not far off on the hypothetical, I’d just offer that the real problem here is not the choice of players but the 50m budget. City spent more than 100m on just Dias and Cancelo.

There’s a separate debate about whether the manager can get the best out of new players, but the Kroenkes don’t owe transfer ambition to the manager, they owe it to fans.


I support Arteta’s interpretation. It’s just that Saka really looks like he needs a rest. A rest we cannot afford against Leicester. Otherwise, where is the spark going to come from?


I think Pepe and Cedric might be in contention for the right hand side. Bellerin looked leggy too and Pepe doesn’t really work with Bellerin like Saka does. On the left I feel like we may even see Willian (gulp) but I’m hoping for martinelli.

That’s one possible option. But honestly who knows at this point, martinelli is intended for cf but can’t displace auba yet.

I have a feeling arteta might play a strong line up until we hopefully score a couple.


It’s a shame that Arteta hasn’t used Nelson more as he could come in on the right and do a job, Pepe really doesn’t work on the right, he seems far more effective on the left to me.

Heavenly Chapecoense

The way Arteta extinguishes the fire in the belly of young players makes me mad. He is destroying Martinelli’s confidence.


We did spend £72million on a right sided forward 18 months ago, he wasn’t involved on Thursday night, so should be relatively fresh

We also invested big wages in a right sided forward just 5 months ago, he’s not started in the league since our defeat to Everton in the middle of Dec

There’s two options

……Holding Mari
Soares Tierney
…….Partey Elneny
Willian Smith-Rowe Pepe

We’ll have plenty of options from the bench if needed, it’s full back we’re numerically short

Is there a young left back ready to break through from the academy?

Heavenly Chapecoense

We can’t achieve top four in the league anyways so why not rest Saka?

Still a chance to snatch a Europa League spot. It’s far too early to give up with 13 games left.


……Holding Mari
Soares Tierney
…….Partey Xhaka
Ødegaard ESR Martinelli


In response to your question about our academy left-back, we have Tolaji Bola. He has been training in and around the first team in the last year or so, but hasn’t made his debut yet. I hope we do actually give him a chance.

Nainsley Aitland Miles

Forget about Bola. Failed loan spell at Rochdale – who are fighting relegation in League One – where he lost his place in the starting line-up, and he’s 22 now, he’ll be gone in the summer.


You can’t keep playing the lad game in game out because of the pitiful state of the squad and – by extension – the club.

He’s a professional athlete, but he’s also a human being; he’ll start to suffer from burnout and risk injury.

Thank Christ some of you lot don’t manage the team….

Giuseppe Hovno

Is Arteta partly responsible for Saka being so good? Is he coaching him?


When Arteta first came, Reiss Nelson talked up his influence on Sterling and Sane, and many thought Nelson and Pepe would be the beneficiaries here. I don’t see why Arteta wouldn’t have had an impact on how Saka is playing.

Heavenly Chapecoense

Who are the coaches responsible for the way Ronaldo and Messi play? Coach “massive talent”?

Disarmed Gunner

Saka was already on the way up before Arteta arrived. Doubt he has had much to do with it

Man Manny

If what we read about him and City players – Sterling being a prime example – is anything to go by, then we can safely say Arteta is coaching him.
What he producing is beyond mere instincts.


Oh do leave off!

You can’t coach natural talent and ability like that – a player is either born with those gifts or he/she isn’t. Simple as that.

I’m beginning to come to the conclusion, in fact, that Arteta couldn’t coach his way out of a paper bag.


This is definitely one of the more inaccurate/AFTV type of comments I’ve read in a while.


He’s pretty much carried the team since Christmas; the lad deserves a rest.

If we struggle without him, that’s not his fault.

That’s on the manager.

Lack of Perspective

Your keyboard deserves a rest.


Arteta has shown inexperience regarding resting players this season. Rushing Partey back against Spurs, then starting him 4 x in 12 days, and breaking him again Running Tierney into the ground, he’s a player who gives a lot, full back is the most physically demanding role in the team, we need to manage him better, we need genuine left sided competition I get that it’s hard to rest Saka, but it’s better to rest him for a game, than to risk losing him for a prolonged period, or burning him out longer term If players keep pushing themselves on empty,… Read more »


Got a feeling that PL is done for us. Yes, we are only single digits behind the 5th but look who is ahead of us. Don’t see them falling apart. Give the young bloodz more playing time, rest key players.


The Premiership was done in August.

If we don’t sign a decent attacking midfielder in the summer then next season’s league campaign will be finished in August too.


Only if Ozil was available! Oh, I’m repeating my point – that must get annoying.

She wore a yellow ribbon

We need Saka tomorrow against Leicester but rest him for the Burnley game and he will have plenty of time to be fresh by the time of the start of the Europa league- Spud sandwich on the 11 March. The area of concern for me is the midfield, where we lack quality cover and how we use Partey during this period. Also having no left back defensive cover is really looking pretty stupid at this moment.

Agreed, start our strongest 11 at Leicester and then rest one or two at Burnley.


You can only judge fatigue in individual players and not constantly compare to Jack Wilshere. Both Ronaldo and Messi played full seasons from a younger age and are still coping well into their 30s.


I kind of get the point Mikel is trying to make, but he’s treading a very fine line and if he really believes all of that stuff, it’s a bit of a concern. I have to say, from my own (far from elite) experience, you really cannot compare pushing yourself to maintain a fairly steady, rhythmic pace during a marathon run, with the stresses of constant acceleration, changes of direction, falls and heavy contact, experienced when playing football. But I guess he knows that really ?


Yes, Saka and some others clearly need a break but it’s down to MA to use other players more frequently isn’t it. Now, if he hasn’t the necessary confidence in those other players, or not many of them at least, then it’s down to him and the management team to rectify that (as best they can) in the summer. That fact that he is very reluctant to use many other players regularly suggests that he’s not happy with quality available. I’m glad MA didn’t labour the “squad fatigue” point too much. It’s a hostage to fortune (and derisive comment) really… Read more »

Surya rantonika

In the last sentence, i could see how demanding arteta from our squad.
He dont like excuse.
If he see somebody trying, he appreciated it.
If he see someone lack of will, then bye bye..


Except if your name is Willian, then you can amble around without a care in the world, to the sound of some distant giant cash register – and still get a game.

Disarmed Gunner

Yes, Partey was willing and ran himself into the ground when not ready and got injured. Great logic by the manager. This isn’t all about heart. It’s about being practical and sensible when it’s required. Arteta just wants to have his cake and eat it – consequences be damned


I fear your right about this. Arteta does seem like a very stubborn cat, and at times like he’s shooting us in the foot over and over. Hope the medical team has enough chops and independence to catch any fatigue strains before pushing players over the edge.




For years, Messi has been carrying Barcelona on his shoulders for liga,UCL,copa and he consistently delivers; I honestly believe we shouldn’t rest a 19 year old that clearly shows he loves and enjoys playing for the Arsenal. At least not yet. We do need him now.

Public Elneny

“At some point, ideally, yes”

Basically means no doesn’t it

I mean yeah ‘he can do it’ until a ligament tears


Well said.

The Premiership is done (it was done in August when he left out Ozil and I realise most of you will now wet the bed at the mention of the unmentionable) so what is the point of risking Saka now for an ultimately meaningless game?

What are the odds that he gets injured in a Premiership game and has to sit out our Europa games because of the manager’s lack of implementing even the basics of sound squad management? Pretty good odds I’d say. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least.


I can’t tell if you sincerely want to chat with other arsenal fans on these topics or are here to assume a lot about people generally and mock and lecture…


Well that’s your problem, not mine. I’m just an Arsenal fan who expresses an opinion – its no big deal. I’ve been a season ticket holder since 1984 and attended Arsenal games since my Dad took me in 1971. I’m therefore reasonably well-acquainted with the club and its history and this knowledge sometimes seems to rub people up the wrong way – again, that’s their problem – not mine. I don’t resort to abusing other posters or name calling other posters – often found on this site elsewhere – and only highlight issues where people have foolishly brought ridicule upon… Read more »


Have you seen ozil play for fener? His career is done, his output of assists and goals is lower than bang average so his playing for the club wouldn’t have made any difference whatsoever. You need to ask yourself if you are a fan of his or of our football club.


Your argument that Ozil wouldn’t have made a difference this season is a hypothetical one – it’s nothing more than an opinion of something that didn’t actually happen.

My argument is a fact; something that did actually happen. Ozil didn’t play and Arsenal made their worst start to a league campaign for 40 years.

I never confuse opinion with fact. 😉


Mikel keeps playing the same players though. Benfica, with all due respect, called for starting Laca and Auba on the left, i. e. Rest ESR,especially since we were likely to have a lot of the ball meaning that Laca’s link up play could have helped us.
Moreover, Mikel also seems to have something against Martinelli (a Guendouzi like situation? ) which is silly because Gabi always had a lot of energy for us and he could be the key for us to rest Auba/ESR.

Romford Robinho

What he’s said here is definitely something I’d imagine Arsene saying (albeit with more finesse). Our manager is maturing in front of our eyes

Billy bob

Think the squad should be:
GK Leno or Ryan
RB Bellarin or Cedric
CB Holding or Luis
CB Gab or Mari
LB Tierney or ???
DM Partey or Elneny
M Xhaka or Ceballos
AM ESR or O (without the umlout)
LS Auba or Pepe
S Laca or Martinelli
RS Saka or a wheelie bin (aka will-i-aint)

Need to rotate these guys more, but if we give Saka and Bellarin a rest play Pepe with Cedric at RB


Since he’s resting saka, he must rest willian as well


He is critical for us at the moment.

Difficult to rest him.

Hopefully someone like Martinelli can also come in and provide more spark plus Auba continues to gain form.

Tierney another who can provide us more positivity in play, Partey back to partner Xhaka.

Otherwise we aren’t full of great options at the moment.


Expecting a win tomorrow.

We are in 11th.

Anything less and I think the verdict would be Arteta is not improving us. Given the resources he has in hand versus far humbler ones at Everton, West Ham, Villa and indeed Leicester, there should be less excuse making.

We SHOULD be much higher in position.


I’m a little baffled as to why we’re hearing the tired players argument being rolled out again this season. I get that the players are being asked to play more games every year. That said we also get told every year how players don’t get enough rest then last year they ended up with months off to rest and recuperate. There wasn’t a preseason or a summer tournament which surely means at this point they should be at full speed having used the first few months of the season as preseason. Saka does have to be monitored like any other… Read more »

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