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?
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