Should Arsenal play a severely weakened team at PSV on Thursday?

Part of managing isn’t just tactics, formations and preparing for the opposition. It’s also about getting the best out of the resources available.

With Arsenal playing every few days, Mikel Arteta has had to manage the game time of each player, finding the balance between not burning out our talent, but fielding good enough teams to win matches.

It’s fair to say this season he’s got things right more than wrong but this week he might be tempted to take a gamble.

The Gunners travel to Holland on Thursday for what on paper was always going to be our toughest test in the Europa League group stages.

That’s why against PSV in London last week our manager played a stronger 11 then he has been in Europe, wanting to seal qualification as soon as possible, taking a lot of pressure off this week.

Dropped points at the Emirates would have meant Eindhoven knowing a win at their place would see them jump above us.

Now we have a 5-point cushion.

Not that nothing is at stake for us.

With us out of Europe 12 months ago some Gooners might not be aware of rule changes to UEFA’s secondary competition.

If you win your group, you essentially skip a round and are in the last 16.

Not just would a runner up spot mean two added fixtures (the one year you don’t want to be adding to your schedule), your opponents would be one of the sides to drop out of the Champions League. That could be the likes of Barcelona, Juventus, AC Milan to name a few.

It leaves our boss a dilemma.

Certain individuals looked jaded in the second half on Sunday and could do with a rare week off. In theory we could give them that time this week and next week when we welcome FC Zurich.

Or does the Spaniard want that point as quick as possible, ask his first team stars to gut out two more games in 4 days, promising them the next week off?

He wouldn’t be allowed to publicly express this approach, but this is what I would do…

Anyone you feel who needs a breather, leave off the plane and let them prepare for Forest.

Bodo Glimt won’t like it but play your second string against PSV knowing your worst-case scenario is you only need a draw in your last game anyway to win the group.

That last game is home to FC Zurich, a side who lost all their encounters in the group.

Our second string can get a draw against them, making the PSV result irrelevant.

It then allows the likes of Jesus and Partey and anyone else looking jaded, to take a breath and focus on the Premier League.

Would you play a weak team against PSV and give some players the rest?

Dan Smith

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20 Comments

  1. I think that Jesus and saliva should play against psv then get rested for the Forrest game. Then we have them fresh and available to play Chelsea, whilst being able to field a strong enough team against psv. We may be through but we still need to top the group

    1. Love that saliba turns into saliva!

      I meant because we don’t want Jesus and saliba to be banned for Chelsea

  2. Based on our EL games, I reckon the qualities of our fringe and squad rotation players would likely be too much for our European oppositions. So, to make our main players fresh for EPL games:

    • PSV vs Arsenal – Oct 27 : Fringe & squad rotation players

    • Arsenal vs Nott’m Forrest – Oct 30 : Main players

    • Arsenal vs Zurich – Nov 4 : Fringe & squad rotation players

    • Chelsea vs Arsenal – Nov 6 : Main players

    1. So main players against Forrest so that saliba and Jesus risk getting carded and missing a game that we desperately need them…logical

      1. Holding or Tomiyasu could replace Saliba, whereas Nketiah could play ahead of Jesus

        EPL game is generally more intense than the EL group phase one and very important. So we shouldn’t depend on our B team to play against Nottingham Forest, especially since our players will play at the Emirates

  3. It is for these reasons we should definitely sign Sergej Mlinkovic Savic, if we are unable to get Bellingham or the premier league battle hardened Ruben Nerves then we should pull out all the stops for the Serbian.

    Although we are flying high an embarrassing defeat away won’t be good for our psyche and for that reason only, our back four should be left intact, playing against PSV, but the entire other seven players should be rested.

    We can take solace that the stigma of a poor history is more confine to Southampton away which give rise to that banana skin affair condition, Forest does not offer these scenarios and playing us at home is a total different proposition.

    1. Ken, when you play for a draw you have no room for error as you could end up with a loss! We, therefore, need a mix of regular players and those who are not so regular. A backline of Holding, Saliba, Tierney and Tomiyasu is very formidable as is a midfield of Lokonga and Vieira. Similarly we can have Maquinhos and Reiss Nelson on the wings with Eddie Nketiah as central striker. If these underperform then the regulars can come in. The advantage these days is that a team has an opportunity for 5 substitutes.

  4. Matt Turner, Cedric Saoures, Holding, Tomi, Zinchenko (if fit), Lakonga, Matt Smith, Viera, Nelson, Nketiah and Marquinhos: to start against PSV. This lot should fight for a draw, and we win the group. No point playing Partey, Saka and Martinelli, they were on their knees against Southampton.

    Tierney should start against Forest. Tomi offered nothing going forward against Southampton which was why they pressured our left side all the time and got their goal from that side against Tomi who was turned inside out. Stupid decision by the inexperienced manager.

    3 points against Forest is non-negotiable.

    1. Agree with that line up. If Zinckenko not available,or to be used against Forest then Tierney. Possibly a good idea to not start Saliba & Jesus against Forest. Have them on the bench for the last 20/25 mins if needed. COYGs

  5. If we draw against PSV, no point playing our seniors against Zurich, we can play the U-23. Our guys get knackered easily.

  6. The fact that we’re having this conversation, is hilarious to me. This all could have been avoided if… IJS

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