Arsenal don’t need to buy a backup for Saka, Arteta just needs to rotate more

Backup for Saka? by Ben

I read an article earlier today, which surprisingly made sense, considering the source was Rio Ferdinand. In the article he claimed Arsenal still need to sign another top-class forward. His reasoning was that Bukayo Saka has not missed a single league game in 2 seasons.

That heavy workload began to show on him in the final weeks of the season, lending credibility to Rio’s statement. However, it is my assertion that Arsenal do not need another forward, Arteta just needs to learn how to use what he has better.

Squad rotation is no longer something to be sneered at. I remember when Claudio Ranieri was mockingly called the ‘Tinker Man’ during his time at Chelsea, due to his penchant for rotating his side. Oh how we laughed.
Fast-forward 20 years, and now failing to properly use your squad can you get you into all sorts of trouble. Of course, it must be said that you can’t rotate what you don’t have, but to compete at the top in 2023 you need 25 players who can all play without a noticable drop in quality.
Rio was right, but also wrong. Arsenal have all the players they need in my opinion. Mikel just needs to use them better. For example, when Saka needs rotating our of the side for a few games, he could play Trossard there, or ESR, or my choice Gabriel Jesus.
He played that position to great effect at City and would be my first choice to play RW when Saka is fatigued. It then opens up our options up front and would allow Balogun or Eddie some more game time.
This is an area of the game where Pep is light years ahead of Arteta. But if he can get it right, we could see exciting times in the future for Arsenal football club.

Ben Dungate

Tags Rio Ferdinand Saka


    1. If we can get a good fee + clauses for nketiah then there is no point selling Balogun for a new striker imo Balogun does offer something different. The issue is whether he’s willing to fight for his place or wants to be an automatic starter.

      If Balogun does go for the appropriate price/clauses then keeping Nketiah as a squad player makes sense.

      Not sure where this desperate need for a striker nonsense has come from we scored shed loads of goals last year.

      1. Boring narrative about fighting for your place only works at a club where you are dropped when your form drops. Can you quote where Balogun said he expects to be an automatic starter or where you get that thought from? Balogun is smart, he can apply critical thinking. He knows he’s behind Jesus and Eddie, even Eddie got very minimal game time last season, how much do you think Flo will get if he’s behind him? How do you prove yourself if you barely see the field?

        Scoring 5 goals in a game is great but still gets you 3 points, a proper striker is someone that will get you that crucial goal in a 1-0 win that matters at the end of the season! A game you might have drawn or lost perhaps, thats the difference.

  1. I beg to differ on Jesus, Nelson, Trossard and Smith-Rowe playing on the right wing. Willian also played RW in his prime for Chelsea, but he couldn’t reach the byline after losing his pace

    It’d be better to have another left-footed attacker as Saka’s competitor. He can cut inside more effectively than the conventional RWs and can also reach the byline if required

    We’ve got Marquinhos for that and Havertz or Vieira could also become the third option

    1. It’s actually better to have a right footer. I know MA doesn’t rotate or change tactics based on opponents but have a left footed and right footed wing means you can play to different strengths and weaknesses.

      Besides that a new winger is the last thing we need, we need a striker.

      1. The right-footed RW could make a greater impact if he comes after the 60th minute in the games, when the opposition’s LB is tired

        We shouldn’t repeat our mistake with Willian. When Nelson and Trossard started some games as RWs last season, they played awkwardly because they couldn’t cut inside safely

        1. Cut inside and do what …?

          A right footer in the right wing can as well do well if he is allowed to play to his strength too…Get to the buyline ,dribble into the box . The season before last when Madrid won the champions league and la Liga they didn’t play with a left footed RW,it was Rodrygo or Valverde that often played from there .

          if we must buy a striker let’s buy someone big and an ideal “out and out striker”

  2. What is it that’s making some Gooners on here want Balogun out of Arsenal this summer beat my imaginations.
    For, Balogun is an Arsenal player who on season long loan last season at a Ligue 1 club side scored 21 League goals. But yet he is not accorded respect as a improved top League regular goals scorer. Why?
    To me, what I think and believe that Arteta and Edu still need to do in their upgradIng of the Arsenal’s team efforts this summer, after their completing of the signings of Havertz, Rice and Timber. Is to have Arsenal signed a new top rated quality left winger. Who will be a top level option to Martinelli. Because as things stand in that right wing, Martinelli is the only top level recognized RW player in the team. But this is not safe. I Know that ESR can play in the right wing position. But I think he is primarily a midfielder..
    So therefore, Arteta and Edu shouldn’t allow Man City to exploit any team personnel weakness in the Arsenal’s team to advantage themselves. When the Gunners challenge the Citizens to the quadruple title wins next season to beat them at it.

    1. We have signed a player already. Kai plays left and on the wing at times. Martinelli is left not right primarily.

  3. It’s not always about cutting inside, it’s also about offering something different tactically.

    For example, the defense trying to counter those runs from the winger they can position and adapt to that deep into the game. Switching players same tactic does what exactly? Hope they are tired?

    Alternatively, a winger that crosses forces defenders to close him down on the sidelines, creating space and channels for other players runs.

    To change tactically, to adjust, and force defense to change and hope to capitalize on any mistakes they make.

    We don’t need cookie cutter wingers all tactical copies of each other. We need different strengths for situational tactics, something we did not do a lot last year.

    That’s why a plan B striker is so important, more than another defender or winger. Jesus, Balogun, and Nketiah all the same type of striker and can’t offer the holdup play or target man in the box, like Giroud did as an example.

  4. This is a silly article. Guardiola has had far more established senior players for several years who could play different roles and seamlessly slot into the first team than Arteta.
    Trossard has had only half a season even though he has done reasonably well so far. ESR has shown talent in the past but was out injured for a good part of last season. When he did play it was clearly not at the levels he had displayed previously.
    Nketiah and Balogun are good players but hardly world beaters at this stage in their careers.
    It is overly simplistic to suggest the team can maintain the same level of performance when players are rotated out.

    1. I don’t see your reasoning for it being a silly article. Yes, Pep has better players and more of them, but it is Arteta who has chosen a lot of the ones we currently have. He bought Fabio Vieira and Trossard and has given Reiss Nelson and Eddie Nketiah new contracts and more money despite none of them being good enough. He hardly played ESR when he was fit again but expects him to just miraculously regain his previous form with a handful of minutes per game, and when he does make substitutions they are boring and predictable. He has spent a collosal amount of money yet for some reason shouldn’t be held accountable because his squad isn’t as good as Pep’s? Now who’s being silly.

      1. That you feel these lines of reasoning are sensible indicates that there is no point in any further discussion.

        1. I see , David. You’re one of those people who isn’t interested in a discussion of the other person doesn’t instantly agree with you. How mature. The fact that you don’t see him offering Nelson and Nketiah new contracts and buying in players like Vieira, Trossard, Kiwior, who simply aren’t good enough as reason to be held accountable tells me all I need to know.

          Oh, lord Arteta, who shalt do no wrong.

        2. For the record I am not stating that the team should be able to maintain the same level without Odegaard, Jesus, Saka etc., What I am saying is that Arteta has spent a lot of money and bought a lot of the players we have, so if the players have aren’t good enough then it’s down to him.

  5. Don’t try to directly logic things like this. No matter how sound your logic is, it will fall on deaf ears and then you’ll have to watch the same claim they were never wrong and held high standards afterwards. Lose, lose.

    Will add to your point though that Vieira played better than ESR in their minutes last year yet there are two completely different narratives surrounding them.

    I agree with the positive narrative around ESR although not the nonsense that he was somehow mistreated but begs the question why Vieira captain of Portugal’s U21 isn’t afforded that same positivity.

    1. @Angus this is to do with Vieiras price tag.It made people have very high expectations about him.
      This guy is still young and I hope this season he can be loaned out to a team where he can get regular playing time to establish himself and get the confidence to play at a higher level.

      1. Needs to spend the off season in the gym with advice from a nutricionist to harden up and build strength on the ball. A sprint coach would also assist Vieira.
        A loan in the Championship would also toughen him up.

      2. It is probably in part related to his price tag. However, additional consideration are that ESR is English and he has progressed from Arsenal’s youth teams.

        1. I think ESR has capital in the bank with fans because he’s played very well for us in the past. There’s an understanding that he’s coming back from another injury but at least we know he has it in him to play well at arsenal.
          Vieira is coming from a different league and hasn’t proven he can handle it here yet – he has no capital with the fans to fall back on.
          I concur with the positivity towards ESR – I’m sure he can regain his form – but I disagree with the excessive negativity towards Vieira. The latter gets another season to prove himself imo – there was a reason we signed him, and adapting to a new league can take time. (I don’t think arteta does him any favours playing him as a cm, though)

  6. We don’t need another wide player, period. We need a goal scoring striker, that now is the missing piece IMO. No one will do exactly what Saka does, but that does not mean that Trossard, Nelson, or Jesus can not do a good job for us when required.

  7. Honestly Saka needs adequate rest this season, he can’t afford to put in a similar shift like last season unless we want to ground him.
    Trossard and Nelson have a clear assignment to have an exceptional performance this season.They should be given adequate playing time as cover for Martinelli and Saka.If they underperform,we have to get a new signing in January to keep us in the mix.

  8. One thing I have noticed over the past weeks from a wide ra ge of Comments
    Whilst we need to move some players on we are actually taking about buying decent players who can challenge for spots

  9. It was so noticeable towards the end of last season that Saka was struggling. Pep managed KDB but, to be fair, he has so much strength in depth at his disposal. This takes time and effort to achieve and we are still in the early stages of development.
    I’ll be surprised if MA doesn’t address the Saka situation next season.

  10. On reading my comment posting, i discovered that I’ve nistakenly made a mistake in my comment. For, it’s the left wing that Martinelli is manning as a top level quality left winger in the team that I ment to comment on. But not the right wing position which is majorly manned by Saka and very manned with many top quality options in personnel that I want to comment on.
    I think going in into next season’s campaign, saved, if Arsenal sign a new top level quality left winger this summer for top options and to cover for Martinelli. Arteta will be left with only Martinelli as the only top level quality recognized left wing specialist in the team. But this could be a risk if left unaddressed thus summer transfer window if isn’t addressed.
    What if Martinelli is not available? Would the left wing be manned by a make shift left winger drafted in the team to play there? The Gunner who I think can be drafted there in the current Arsenal’s team is ESR. Well, it’s up to Arteta and Edu to decide.

  11. Ben has identified a major failing of Mikel Arteta last season; the failure to rotate the available players in his squad. This doesn’t mean he would be a “tinker man.”

  12. Arteta should rotate his first XI even when the team is playing well and churning out good results. The idea of “If it ain’t broken,no need to fix it”, should not be carried into the new season.

  13. Whether Gabriel is the right man to rotate with Saka or whether it is Trossard or ESR, whatever it is, the fact remains that Arteta must rotate his squad. Players will get tired and exhausted after continuously playing, after all they are human and it is Arteta’s job to understand when they are worn out and need rotation. Last season, saka looked completely worn out in the last few weeks and this is not good for him. It not only limits the potential of the player but could also lead to serious injuries. So Arteta must necessarily rotate his players at the right moments.

  14. Agree that it’s a sill proposition and not worth debating. We now have enough forward cover to interchange with Saka or to take the heat off him when he is having an ineffectual game. An attacking wingback working in tandem with Saka would be something else though. He would help take defenders off Saka and give him some respite from the niggly tackles and fauls. White has his days but not enough and when he’s bad he’s Bad. In the long run he would as ever the best interests of team playing as a centre half.

  15. Ben, Arsenal last year had many players but not good enough to rotate. To win you need top quality players replacing another top quality without noticeable drop in play. You saw what happened when Saliba was out, days when Partey was out. Zinco, Jesus etc

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