Arsenal now have to prepare for the Europa League “home” fixture against Benfica on Thursday, and with the games coming thick and fast, the boss fully expects to have to put some fresh legs on the pitch in Athens.
We are going into the return leg badly out of form with just one win in our last 5 League games and a glaring lack of goals from our strikers. Other than the four strikes against Leeds, we have only managed one goal in our other four fixtures, and Arteta told Arsenal.com about the problems he is having managing the squad. “Well, it’s hard because everyone wants to play and everyone wants to be available for every game, so if anything, I feel sorry for the players that they cannot play or are not playing more. But everybody is doing their best all the time to be available, which I really value a lot. But it’s true that there’s players with lots of minutes and we don’t have the players to replace them, unfortunately.”
So, naturally he was then asked about whether he would make a number of changes against Benfica, and he replied: “I don’t know if it will be five, four or seven. We will have to see how they react from today’s performance. It was a really tough game physically for both because it was full gas from the beginning and we will see who will be available and fit to be there. Obviously we need a fresh team and we need legs as well because then the decision making and everything becomes better when they are fresh. We will see who’s available.”
The fact is that the Europa League is now our only hope of getting anything out of our season, but if we are as wasteful in the second leg as we were in the first then it is not going to be easy.
Perhaps Arteta will play super defensively and hope we can go through on the away go rule after a 0-0 draw?