I doubt that I was the only Arsenal fan to be surprised to see the Arsenal team sheet for the away game against QPR last night. Arsene Wenger had strongly suggested after the weekend win over Everton that he would have to make changes.
The Frenchman has been saying for a while that his team have been dropping off a bit in the second half of games, as the pressure to win and the injury situation have left the boss with little choice to keep playing the likes of Mertesacker, Alexis and Cazorla.
So why did he start with all three of these overworked Gunners and only make two changes from the team that beat Everton? I think it is the growing pressure in the fight to finish in the top four. As revealed in a report by The Mirror, Wenger is looking down as well as up in the table.
With all the top seven teams winning this week, Arsenal in third are only seven points ahead of the spuds in seventh. The manager knows that with 10 games to go, a lot could happen and a little dip in form now could be disastrous.
Wenger said, “It’s hot up there because everyone won tonight. We can only focus on our performances and keep going. Ten games to go, six at home, four away. We just need to focus on our performances.”
So with Man United still winning despite uninspiring performances and with Liverpool really hitting form, I think Wenger is worried about every game and could not bring himself to rest the big players. I wonder if the same will be true of the FA cup game on Monday. Do you think Wenger´s focus on the FA cup has wavered because of the tightness at the top?