There are many writers and readers on here, including me, that think that Arteta should be playing very strong Arsenal teams in the League Cup, as it is one of very few trophies we could win this season, but now I’m not sure it is such a priority for Arteta.
In fact the only two regular first teamers that took to the field were Ben White and Emile Smith-Rowe, and Arteta admitted after the game that even they shouldn’t have played but for injuries forcing his hand.
Arteta said on Arsenal.com: “The thinking was that it was more a reactive situation! Martin was going to start the game and he was injured, so we had to pick someone to play in midfield. The other one was Pablo, he was going to start as well but he couldn’t because he had a bug this morning and wasn’t feeling good so we had to play Ben.”
You could theorize that now Arsenal have moved up the table with our unbeaten run that Arteta is thinking that a European position is now very possible, as we are only one point behind 5th place, and it is better to rest our regular stars.
But Arteta was also clear that he needed to reward his backup players, who are rarely getting a game with most of the squad fit. The Boss said: “It was a decision that… I can’t keep demanding players to do what they do every day, and to keep believing that they can get in the team and ask them to raise the level [without giving them a chance to play] and I trust them. I was calm as I know that they can do it. Obviously it was against a tough opponent.”
It certainly wasn’t an easy win, and Arteta may have taken a bigger risk than neccessary, but every Premier League team needs a fit and happy set of backups in case of injuries, sickness or suspensions, so I can understand Arteta’s thinking.
All’s well that ends well, eh?