I just want to point out that this view comes from a fairly new football fan but more importantly an Arsenal fanatic. Because I am been new to the game, I probably watch more than my share of non-Arsenal matches, in my quest for knowledge. I note the way other managers use their squads, and then I look at our talented team. I am well aware of the players not available due to injury at any given time, as all of us are.
I am constantly frustrated by the feeling that we have players who are getting run into the ground, while on the other hand, we have talented eager people getting rusty, and possibly disgruntled, on the bench. Both of these feelings are compounded even more by the fact that we never do early substitutions.
Let me start with this example: Sagna has just returned from a serious, long term injury – also one very similar to his previous leg break. Before his return, Jenkinson was filling in more than admirably. He was mentioned as a candidate for MOTM often, also being recognized by the media and the national team. So, as we heard that Bacary was close to his return to the team, I thought about how he should probably be used.
To me, there certainly was no reason to rush him any faster than necessary, but I did worry about Jenkinson getting too many minutes from the beginning of the season. But still, a great problem to have. Why not give Sagna enough match time to regain sharpness, then make sure he gets an occasional week off, to keep him healthier, and Jenks sharp. Now, it feels to me, (despite the new contract) like Carl has fallen off the map.
Before the Tottenham match, or maybe the previous one, Sagna was a doubt, and had to pass a fitness test before the game. Wouldn’t that be a perfect time to have him take a day off, considering his recent injuries, the run of games he played, and the quality of the backup for the position? I know he doesn’t want to sit ever, but few players do, and the manager has to get them used to rotation.
Why is there such fear, that we must start our absolute best 11 for every match? It’s not as though there’s a frightful drop off in quality with the example I just cited. It’s not like last years RvP – Chamakh situation.
Arsene fills our team with international quality along with young, promising players. I just don’t see us resting our best or working in the rest of the squad, in any prudent manner.
Cazorla, to my eyes, takes a more than usual beating, because he plays at such a high level of effort, he is marked harder than anybody on the pitch by the opposition, and because of his size, they try to rough him up as much as possible. Even if you don’t like the drop off in class to the second or third choice, he must be given some time to recharge. The same goes for Arteta. I think we are seeing some fatigue with our midfield. I really don’t want Jack to be overworked. I know he has been subbed for, but that’s not the same as a week off, considering how long he’d been out.
I won’t waste your time going through all the possible options that we have to give our guys some rest. There are plenty.Including some versatile players like Arshavin, Ox, Coquelin, who can do midfield and other positions pretty well. They might even be inspired to excel by the opportunity. I wouldn’t be surprised that even if we have a fully fit squad with Diaby and Rosicky, Arsene would over use Cazorla,and Arteta, though probably a little more careful with Wilshere (learned the hard way).
Our recent midweek match with Montpellier as an example, a good opportunity to work in Jenkinson, or rest either Santi or Arteta in midfield. If we don’t trust ourselves to tweak the starting 11 in a match like that, how will we ever be confident.
At the back, I think we need to keep our top 3 CBs fresh. No one likes a rusty center half, so when Gibbs returns to LB, we must keep that in mind- and he is another that should not be playing 2 matches per week, or for or five in a row. Not with his history. I don’t care if it’s Santos, Vermaelen, Yennaris, Miquel (I’d like to see Ignassi a bit more).
We can’t approach every match selection as if it’s a Champions League final. But that drives me to my final point ———
Something that many of my complaints come back to : We are often in this position because of how we do our business. The feeling of having to start our best players always, with no margin for error, because of our perennial slow starts to the campaign. This comes from late bargain hunting at the end of the window, or general disorganization at the top regarding contracts and such. All made worse by a ridiculously impractical pre-season in which our players (even the ones who signed early) had precious few minutes in matches together, in some cases, almost no time to gel. Terrible for a club with youth and a high turnover like ours. We can still do tours, but we must set up more practice matches.
Even having noted that situation, it’s no excuse not to rotate a lot more than we do. Keep everyone better rested, fresher, sharper, maybe happier- and who knows, we might even see a few less injuries that way.
Written by Johnnie nyc