Tuesday, June 25, 2024

“We cannot play every player every week” – Arteta on the difficulty of squad rotation

Arsenal may be thriving on the pitch but with Mikel Arteta making minimal changes to his starting lineup in recent weeks, several long-standing players may be wondering what their teammates’ good form means for their own futures at the Emirates.

Of the playing time available (1,890 minutes) during the Gunners’ seven-game winning streak, Eddie Nketiah, Emile Smith Rowe and Reiss Nelson have collectively mustered 260 minutes on the pitch.

In Arteta’s parlance, they have been handed the role of ‘impactor‘, except in most of the games since mid-January, there’s not been much to impact.

Instead, they’ve nursed results to their conclusion, struggling to impose themselves on games lacking tempo. In fact, between the three Hale End graduates, only Nketiah has made a goal contribution since mid-January, providing an assist in the 5-0 win over Crystal Palace.

What’s more with injured players, including Gabriel Jesus and Fabio Vieira, returning to fitness, there’s more competition than ever as the season enters the home straight.

It’s a situation that Arteta is mindful of, but he admits he doesn’t have a solution, even if the five subs rule gives him a little more wiggle room for rotation.

“We discussed things and we cannot play every player in every game,” he said in his pre-Brentford press conference.

“Those players played a few games ago against Newcastle and they had opportunities to do that.

“Now we have five subs, before we had only three, so we have another two players happy. That’s the way I take it, but you always have players who want to be involved and play, but unfortunately it is impossible.

“It’s not in our hands, it’s impossible to achieve that so they know that.”

Asked if he’s spoken to players privately about their lack of game time, he continued: “You cannot really promise anything.

“You never know what is going to happen in a three weeks time or seven days. Just I think we have to show the compassion and they need to feel that we are next to them and we understand where they are, but the reality as well is that this is football.

“This is a team sport and you have to understand and fulfil the role that you have in the moment and it might be very different in three weeks time.”

Certainly, Nketaih, Smith Rowe and Nelson will be hoping things do change for them, if only for a chance to put themselves in the shop window ahead of the summer transfer window.

Usually, at this time of the season, changing up the team isn’t so much a choice but a necessity with the relentlessness of the schedule taking a toll on fitness.

That’s not been the case in the last six weeks. Due to early exits from the domestic cups, fixtures have been nicely spaced out meaning plenty of downtime for the first team. It’s not been great for fringe players and it’s also been a challenge for Arteta and his team who’ve been desperate to build momentum. In fairness, they aren’t doing a bad job.

“We had a really strange schedule lately because we had a long period after Newcastle and the same happened a week or two ago,” said Arteta.

“We have adapted and we have to have the capacity to adapt to that. It’s true that now we’re going to have two games very close to each other and then we’re going to have a big gap again after the international break to Man City, so try to prepare in the right way to maximise the time that we get.”

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I miss santi cazorla

I hope things remain the same for Nketiah.

Ray's Ice Cream Parlour

I hope Eddie gets on as a sub every game until the end of the season and bags a goal in each game, including the Champions League Final !!!!

Man Manny

Sadly, this is the reality of elite football. Jack Grealish, for example, is a £100m bench warmer at the Etihad.
I have resigned to seeing ESR strut his stuff next season because I don’t see the situation changing any time soon. Nketiah too. As for Reiss Nelson, I was surprised he signed a new contract last summer – or whenever it was. The good thing is that proceeds from their sale may be enough to get us another fearsome wide forward.

Man Manny

*strut his stuff somewhere else next season…

Only here to see Eboue

That’s a nonsense comparison. Look at the numbers. City rotates, which is also why they normally pull away from everyone in the second half of the season. Arteta has 11 players and that’s it. Arteta obviously doesn’t think players like ESR are any good because it just doesn’t make sense otherwise to rely so heavily on such a small group of players.


City have a lot of QUALITY squad depth, too. Grealish is way better than ESR, for example. And he isn’t a benchwarmer, but a well rotated squad player.

I hate them as much as the next guy, but let’s call a spade a spade

Heavenly Chapecoense

Grealish is way better than ESR in drinking beer in a bar. Agree if that is what you mean.


Phillips before going to west ham?

The Beast

Had a quick look at the numbers & Eddie’s played way more minutes than Grealish in the league (similar numbers in all comps with Grealish picking up numbers in the club world cup).
Now, does that mean that Pep’s actually shit at rotation as well or maybe it isn’t as simple as you’re trying to make out?


Tough for players like ESR, who I love. If he were with City it would be the same, that’s the problem with having lots of class players in the squad. I hope he stays for many seasons to come.


It is tough but I am glad to see that a lot of fans anger at Arteta for not playing him is diminishing. Arteta wants to win games and if ESR was the next coming of Messi then he would be played. If he isn’t in the team it is because the manager, who has done more than enough to earn the fans trust, doesn’t deem him to be an upgrade to other players in the squad.


My frustration is more with ESR himself. Obviously we’ve no idea what goes on behind closed doors, but- despite what people say- Arteta has pretty consistently shown if you work hard and have a good mentality, you’ll play.
ESR is probably my favourite player to watch in the squad, but there’s a reason he doesn’t get chances. As you say, if Arteta believed he would improve our chances of winning games, he’d be there.

Walter White

I find it a bit hard to nail down his spot in the team as well. He could play LW, but is currently behind Martinelli/Trossard. His best position is probably in the former Ødegaard position, but Ødegaard has dropped a lot deeper to the benefit of the team, so that’s out of the question now. Then we have the LCM, but the Jorginho/Rice pivot, or Havertz physical presence and off the ball work is difficult to replace, though this is where his best chance of playing probably is. Unless Arteta tweeks the system a bit, like moving Ødegaard to the… Read more »

Santi’s Phonebox

At some point the quality of other squad members knocks you down the pecking order and if you are an all rounder like ESR, you don’t have an elite quality like Martinelli, speed dribbling or Saka, everything he does, you may get squeezed out. Of all the younger fringe members of the squad, Eddie, Reiss, or Ramsdale, I think the decision on ESR will be last and depend upon incomings.


I wouldn’t call Smith-Rowe an all rounder necessarily. His dribbling, awareness of space on the ball, combination play and runs into the box are all elite however from what we’ve seen since his return from long term injury he seems to lack aggression on par with his teammates in the defensive phase. We saw an example of where this was costly when he let Willock run across him unchallenged to score late on in the Newcastle game. I think we know by now that Arteta is a manager who values defensive discipline and control above all and I think this… Read more »

Santi’s Phonebox

Good shout.


My biggest problem with this is ESR needs a STRING of starts and not 10 minutes here, 7 minutes there. If Arteta was willing to sacrifice the state of our play to force Havertz in the lineup to “get him his confidence” then why can’t he do it with ESR? It just seems a bit targeted and again shows that MA definitely plays favorites with certain players.


MA sees Havertz as having a quality and game that fits what he wants, and ESR doesn’t as completely. Havertz is only his favourite because MA thinks he’s better. Like Saka is his favourite. I’m guessing ESR Iis your favourite, i.e you think he’s better than Havertz!

Tom 007

IMO.. sell nketiah. Reiss. Tierney. Lokonga. Elneny. Cedric.. Rambo too coz he ain’t comfortable with the number 2 role. Get some hard cash and re invest before ffp catches up….

Only here to see Eboue

Terrible excuses. Arteta does precisely zero squad rotation and his attitude towards youngsters is even worse. The whole thing is mental. Martinelli for instance never should’ve limped off against Sheffield on Monday because he should’ve been taken off at half time! The game was over ffs. Odegaard has played basically every single game for the full 90. Why!? A lack of rotation makes the squad and our title chances so much weaker. It just doesn’t make any sense to wilfully make yourself that vulnerable to having your title challenge get detailed by injuries. And with youth, the reality is that… Read more »


ESR, Nelson and Nketiah should all go in the summer and Cedric and Elneny will be out of contract. Perma crocks Partey and Tierney also out of the door, time to refresh this squad with players who can actually contribute on a regular basis. ESR looks overweight and is supposedly still “potential” let somebody else give us the money and try to find it, Nelson living off the proceeds of one wonder goal and little else, Nketiah feeble and ineffective, time to get serious. If we had players who are decent options then I think they’d be rotated. Just because… Read more »


I don’t know I think we’ve been alright.


It might suprise you to hear this but MO and martineli are regularly subbed.


Which team are you managing in the premier league title race? You’re entitled to your opinion of course, but I have to say it’s bullshit mate.

Santi’s Phonebox

The team can go top of the table tomorrow and you are going in two footed on the manager. We have traveled from 8th, 5th, 2nd, and battling for the title for the second year, and before one of the biggest weekends you decide now is the time for negativity. Get on or off the bus but quit masquerading as a supporter.




One answer is because the players have had plenty of rest recently, so none are in the ‘red zone’. And rhythm and regular minutes are important as they are our best players.


We have a second team for youth development, and al there is a loan system in place.

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