Arsenal had to fit four games into eleven days, ending with our undeserved defeat to Olympiakos on Thursday, which has taken a toll on the players energy levels, but with the FA Cup being our only chance of a trophy left this season, should Arteta stick to his strongest team against Portsmouth?
In the pre-game conference, Arteta told us that he had a few players coming into the squad that need some gametime under their belts. When asked if our new centre-back Pablo Mari could be in the team tomorrow, Arteta said: “Yes, I think he needs minutes, like Rob did, like Ainsley and like Reiss as well. I think it was a good game for them to get their fitness levels tested as well and they trained today really well. They are all, I think, ready to play.”
But will the boss throw them all into a rotated line-up because we are playing a League One side? We will have to wait and see, but personally I think that most of the team that lost to Olympiacos should be back on the field so they can regain some confidence quickly, as well as proving to the fans that Arteta intends to take the FA Cup seriously. In fact I believe he should play his strongest team against Portsmouth and not take any chances at all.
Can you imagine if he played lots of reserves and Arsenal got beat tomorrow? It doesn’t bear thinking about….