The biggest lesson that Arteta needs to learn from Arsenal’s season – Rotation

Arsenal’s title charge collapsed at the eleventh hour in a very painful manner for Arsenal fans. The most-quoted reason that has been given  is lack of squad depth. This is largely true, especially in defence where Arsenal lost quality quickly with just a few injuries.

But it is also a question of how Arteta manages his squad of players. Arteta will have to find a way of giving even his back-up players enough minutes to keep them fit through the season.

He is a good coach, but he has to do away with his stubborn loyalty to certain players that he insists on fielding even when they are off form or in games where they could simply be rested to give minutes to the other players.

There is, for example, no reason Kieran Tierney was benched for most of the season. There were certainly games such as the Man City and the Everton games where we needed better defending, and Tierney was a better choice in most peoples opinions.

I could even include the Liverpool game. But Arteta chose to stick with Zinchenko. The effect of this is that we did not just lose those games, but that when Zinchenko suffered injury and Tierney had to step in, he was not to his level. He needed a few more games to be match fit, but there was just no time for that.

The other example is Smith Rowe and Fabio Vieira. There is no doubt that these are two very talented players, but they weren’t of use to the team when we needed them most.

First, Vieira had been on the bench for so long that he couldn’t cope when brought into some of the games. In the case of Smith Rowe, I just couldn’t understand why Arteta could not reintegrate him into the team after injury. At the time of his injury, he was better than Martinelli on the left wing, and in most instances better than Odegaard as a 10.

This is not to downplay the value of Martinelli and Odegaard. They are incredible. But Smith Rowe is just as good, if not better. He was our leading scorer at the time of his injury.

Unless Arteta finds a way of dealing with this problem, it would not matter how many good back up players we recruit this summer. They will all still waste away on the bench, and therefore be of little use to the team in the final stretch when we most need them – when injuries and fatigue start taking their toll on the first eleven.

I think we can all agree that is the big lesson that Arteta needs to learn from this campaign…

Otsieno Namways

Video – Alfie and Rob are back for the summer transfer window
Here is their first analysis of the summer, where Alfie and Rob discuss and predict every single possible Arsenal incoming and outgoing this summer, including fees and potential destinations for outgoings.

CALLING ALL ARSENAL FANS! Anyone who would like to contribute an Article or Video opinion piece on JustArsenal, please contact us through this link

Tags Arteta Kieran Tierney Smith-Rowe


  1. What people also need to remember is Tierney is an international CB but was never used as a “backup” CB. Nketiah, when he replaced the injured Jesus, was at least as good or better fit to the team but was never allowed to replace a faltering Jesus, when he came back. Jesus was never tried as a winger and either Trossard or Nketiah up top. Tierney never replaced a faltering Zinchenko. ESR was never allowed to play in the xhaka role. Other players could have been utilised from the squad but were left to play Candy Crush on the bench.

    1. Basically he never rotated the squad, even when it was slapping him in the face, that things needed freshening up.

      1. Have to agree Reggie.The more you consider our failure to rotate the more perplexed you become.Its almost like Arteta is bereft of any imagination or respect for certain members of his squad who, as it happens, were not signed by him.And yet many subscribers to JA, regularly criticise the likes of Nketiah, Nelson, ESRq and Tierney who , under Arteta have become virtually redundant.To hit top form you need match practise so by denying these players time on the pitch our Manager has effectively cut off his nose to spite his face .When he analyses why his team collapsed, he needs to look in the mirror.

        1. Agree 100% with Reggie and Grandad.
          Add favouritism to this and you got the result of what happened.

        2. 👍👍👍Mikel Arteta’s inexperience and personality weaknesses (tunnel vision and favouritism) came to the fore when the pressure was on in the run home. 7 points from the 21 available says it all.

    2. This is what exactly I was thinking to say, we do have good players, but they have never been used.

      I didn’t expect us to win or even fight for the PL, but when it was in our hands, the players and MA couldn’t keep it!

      I don’t blame MA a lot, to be honest; with Saliba’s injury, nobody could replace him, but rotating the players would be the best option.

      1. Then why did he use Saliba at the Europa cup, when he has other players he can rotate to play it. To me that was were Arteta messed thing up for Saliba been injured in Europa cup n not even league games messed our season up

  2. I honestly believe the lack of rotation is directly linked to a lack of a plan B.

    We play a carbon copy of City’s strategy and formation which is simple enough to copy but not as easy to perfect.

    MA sets a team up to play this way and our first 11/12 players can do it fine. Our fringe players actually need coaching to play this way and this is where Arteta falls short, if someone is not naturally talented I think he struggles to coach them to be better. In my view Arteta is a good tactician and a decent manager but he is not a coach.

    This is why he is scared to rotate, because he knows he has been unable to coach the fringe players to be better and to play plan A perfectly. Rotation means flexibility in tactics as different players bring different skill set onto the field and tactics need to be adjusted accordingly.

    Before you jump down my throat, think about it. If Arteta can bring flexibility to our game and his coaching think of how much better we will be, people have figured us out and know how to play against us now.

    1. @ PJ_SA
      Very valid point. The lack of a plan B means not looking at different skill sets as there are many ways of skinning a cat.

      He has to develop a plan B. Otherwise he is going into the transfer market to implement a failed plan A.

      He cannot be better than Pep at what Pep does best. That is why Tottenham beat Man City and we failed.

  3. Arteta is smart enough and good enough to start developing his own managerial style and he really needs to start doing it now.

    If he doesn’t, he’ll just be remembered as a failed attempt at copying Pep which nobody wants.

    1. PJ-SA, does Mikel Arteta really have these in his locker to operate under pressure, before he reverts to type?

  4. Arteta and Edu need to understand that its not easy to get a good player from a top team. Unless a player wants out of a team the majority of the times teams like City, Barcelona and Real Madrid sell players for a good reason. Buying Jesus and Zinchenko from City was not good business. Odegaard looks good but he lacks in big games the way players like KDB, Modric, and Bernado Silva dominate opponents. To transform our team into champions we need to buy players who will change the way we play pressure games the way Casemiro has managed to do at United.

    Arteta and Edu have wasted a lot of money buying players who are not better than what we had. We need to pay big money for top class talent like what Klopp did at Liverpool buying VVD and Alisson. Those two players really changed Liverpool into champions.

    Unless a player is better than the current player there is no need to sell and buy. Rather we keep our players and buy only when there is need to eg:
    Leno 8mil and Martinez 20mil replaced by Ramsdale 32mil we could have kept either Leno or Martinez and used the money to upgrade other areas. We had a group of fantastic academy players like Willock, Martinez, Niles, ESR, Okonkwo, Nketiah, and Nelson who have failed to be developed or given a fair chance.

    Arteta seems to be on a route to take out all the players he found at the club. I believe we lack experience in key areas. Lacazette could have helped us win the league this year. Against Everton, Liverpool, and Southampton he could have provided steel upfront. He always performed well in high pressure games and was a fighter. Its a shame he lost his touch the moment Arteta came in. He is back to his best in an average Lyon team in France.

    How Odegaard got the captaincy ahead of players like Gabriel, Partey, Tierney and White is a mystery. How was Jesus as appointed third choice captain during the offseason? The issue of the capatincy is taken seriulsy by big clubs and at Arsenal during the last years of Arsene, Emery and Arteta it has been a joke indeed. If you look at Real, Barca, AC Milan, Inter, Juventus, Bayern, Chelsea, and Liverpool for the past 20years they have only maybe 4 or 5 captains. Wearing the arm band must be like the coronation of a captain.

    For next season I think three midfielders and a striker will do for us. I will choose from Rice (he is English and can be a future captain), Caicedo, Kudus, Osimhen, Kane (very difficult to pull of). We don’t need many incomings but we need players who can dislodge the ones in the team. We haven’t won the league for 20 years now and we don’t need to buy players who will automatically sit on the bench. Apart from Saka and Martinelli IMO the rest of the players can be easily dislodged from the first eleven.

    1. Jesus and Zinchenko are good buys! Bad buys were kiwior(so far), lokonga cedric mari etc,

  5. Playing one game a week ,I’m perplexed why we needed to rotate ,how can a professional footballer be tired physically for 90 mins per 7days ,we got found out and the players and manager weren’t good enough ,did Southampton ,Brighton and forest have amazing squad depth ?no they wanted it more and it showed ,have they spent half a billion in the last 3 years ?
    It’s just another excuse for the short comings of the team .
    Yes freshen it up every other game with a few changes ,which he did so I honestly to get this squad depth excuse ,we signed 2 players in January for that exact reason and they both played their part .

    1. @ DK
      You have answered your question in the Ist line of the sentence: ‘we got found out’.
      Rotating means different skill sets coming into the equation to confuse the opposition (for example having a right winger instead of a inverted left footed right winger). This could be a change of formation, tactics or personnel to keep them fresh and ensure that nobody’s place in the team is guaranteed.

      1. Yea I get that IGL but it’s the comments I read that the players were tired ,it doesn’t make sense to me anyway .

        1. @ DK
          I agree with you that they are not physically tired. But mental fatigue is something else as they feel the burden is on their shoulders (i.e. Ist eleven).
          I myself have felt it when things are not going right or even not started because of the wheels of bureaucracy. I am shattered despite doing exercises.

          One great solution is to have psychiatrists which play a great mental role. Our mentality has been weak for far too long.

    2. I don’t understand how someone like you@Dan Kit,by that I mean with you football knowledge cannot understand our players being tired.playing 90 minutes at the highest level demand a lot of concentration,being switched on all the time,it can be mentally exhausting.despite City competing on several fronts, our first 11/12 players still played more football than City’s bar 2/3 and they’re not KDB/Haaland…if you want to see the benefits of rotation just look at Gündogan(32 years),8 goals and 4 assists in the PL,most of them in the last 5 games) coincidence?no,he had been rested.City’s players never play more than 3 or 4 games in a row,so it doesn’t really matter how many more game than us they play,they will always be fresher.

      1. @Saimois
        Does Brighton rotate players like City does? How about Brentford? Newcastle? How many rotations did Klopp do last season die to ‘fatigue’?
        The fact is that our players switched off. They were not physically tired.
        And why should I work my socks off when I know I’m a favourite and no matter how badly I play, I’m still going to start? Saka has been trash for a food number of games now yet he plays 90 mins. Same with Jesus, Zinchenko. Xhaka cannot be benched. Never ever and you’re wondering why we capitulated?

        1. Were Brighton/Brentford fighting for the title?no
          As for Newcastle their last 7 games.2 losses,1 us Howe blamed their lack of depth squad.

          1. Newcastle form would have kept us in the title race, just saying
            Arsenal is arsenal look at Nottingham forest and you will see that they are fighting for something and deserved to beat us. Arsenal fighting for top 4 last season went to spurs and Newcastle, and was torn apart no fight, no pride… The least you could do is fight till the end, look at united without rashford, all they are doing is fighting to cling the top4… Again this season look how we capitulated no fight, spineless next season when Neville starts saying this like they are we will say he’s hating on arsenal…
            Injuries, did nothing to us, the team capitulated just as they always do, I am glad we finished second at least that has set the bar high, I don’t care who is signed as for next season Arteta is fully in the spotlight from day one, no more excuses to hide behind, he has gotten everything he would wish for more especially time..

    3. I agree that both Trossard and Jorginho have played their part.sadly,they could have been better managed.Trossard was benched for a returning Jesus, despite the fact that he had 1 goal/7 assists in 7 games.not only that but our attack was playing well and we were winning for Jorginho,he should have replaced TP earlier but at his age and fitness wise,the chances of him playing well for 4/5 games in a row, were very slim.that’s why I wanted TP back for the NF game.

    4. Dan kit, football being a physical contact sport, means that even one game per week may lead to players carrying injuries, which may affect their performance.

      1. Players playing eith injuries
        Since when, why is saliba not playing with injury? Please stop this nonsense when you are injured others take your place, people are so passionate to throw any narratives around just to defend another end of the season capitulation… Players playing with injuries just very funny

  6. I see the advertising pop ups are back. So annoying, puts me off coming on here. Might look for another site to chat to gooners.

    1. Have you tried AdBlock era?also go to settings on your Google account., you’ll see ads,pop ups…just turn them on,it will stop block pops up and ads too.

  7. Rotation was needed saka played last 10 games anonymously, he missed a penalty at Westham it was a sign,but come Southampton next he was on 1st 11 give him a break and replace him with Nelson. Put someone who cannot be affected by saliba’s injury look at city they switch formation second half of the season and it worked, why we did not switch formation afta two draws against Liverpool and Westham

  8. True, Arteta doesn’t rotate enough, but could he, and was there a need to?

    When backup players stepped in for cup games and injuries, you could see a big drop off in quality most of the time, so one could understand Arteta’s reluctance. City can drop half their best players and you’d barely notice, but we just don’t have that depth in quality to do that.

    Secondly, playing one game a week for large parts of the season, meant the need to rotate wasn’t there.

    Going into next season, improving squad depth is a must.

    1. Have you ever heard of motivation. Arteta never gave them any. They probably knew that they were still going to be on the bench.

      1. Excellent response Reggie. No matter how hard I try and how well I play, I’m still going to be on the bench. That doesn’t do much to motivate me. Just look how Trossard’s form nosedived after he was cruelly dropped for Jesus who is a favourite.
        Also, why should I kill myself for 50/50 balls when I know I’m a favourite and will still start the next match however badly I play? Saka and Jesus are prime examples

      2. Also as I stated above Jen and Reggie, players still incur injury and, if not rotated, carry injury into the next game affecting performance.

      3. True, but we were going for a title. Could you imagine the fans outrage if for example he dropped Saka for Vieira, or Nelson and we dropped points.

        Very rarely does any manager drop their star players, unless their poor form had continued for months on end, or a season. With our star players it would only be 3 or 4 game periods here and there during the season.

        I do agree that rotation is needed, but surely the proof is in the pudding. When these backup players came in, they were not good enough and we didn’t have time to bed them in properly because we were in the mix for a title. Hardly any of them made an impression in the cup games, where they had more chances.

        There’s a multitude of reasons as to why we didn’t win the title – youngest squad in the league and also inexperience from Arteta, key injuries, and forgot just the Premier League, City are one of the greatest English league clubs at the moment. Not even the wealth of experience and quality from Liverpool could live with them.

        I do feel rotation was more a minor issue, purely because the options were not really there.

        1. The greatest manager of the premier league era AF, often threw in players and left players out for many games. He was the master at it and utd were always strong atcthe end of the season.

  9. The point of this article might be true and it might not be. It certainly would have mitigated against fatigue for our starting 11. But maybe Arteta is right that the 2nd string is not up to the standard. Maybe he got as many points as possible out of the team that he had and more rotation would have meant dropped points throughout the season instead of just at the end.

    1. @TZGunner
      Or maybe, that’s about the best excuse available to cover up the fact that maybe Arteta lacks the adequate man management skills to get the best out of his players. Every player is not going to be top notch or world class. And those who aren’t, a good manager knows how to utilise their strengths.

      A funny aside concerning this article. Many on here who are now crying about rotation, we’re the same ones screaming “ why change a winning team”when rotation was being suggested. Jus sayin…😂

        1. In reality there was games arsenal were winning comfortably yet early subs were not made to protect the so called winning team, our best performance against city this season game in the fa cup at the etihad, guess what viera, holding, nkettiah, trossart, tierney all started the game and yet we caused them a lot of problems and played well even though we narrowly lost against a full squad city side.. Viera can in for odegaard against Brentford and we won 3:0 he scored too and showed a lot of promise what happened after, Nelson game in for injured xaka a game he was supposed to start but it took injury for him to come and scored 2 goals… I could go on and on
          The truth is, We have a good enough squad that was badly mismanaged fulstop…

  10. I think all managers have their favorites, nothing revealing about that. Difference is, for example, Pep dropped KDB quick when he wasn’t giving 100%.

    When has Arteta dropped a favorite? Saka wasn’t tracking back against Brighton, (tired, jaded, doesn’t matter) Saka right back in starting 11 next week.

    Jesus been awful lately, and we played some of our best football with Trossard at 9. Yet Jesus starts against NF and flops and whines all over the pitch.

    Xhaka instead of Tierney starting defies logic.

    Xhaka been one of our best midfielders, so you shift his position rather than start Tierney?

    Or Zinchenko been a soft spot since Liverpool, yet he still starts and continues costing us goals.

    Arteta has to learn better man management and have real competition for playing time. Otherwise it’s just rinse and repeat and see the same complacency we say start to fester with Wenger.

  11. Arsenal lost the title due to Arteta’s zero man-management skills. He has his favourites and anyone outside that bracket is ignored by him. Let’s rewind back a but. Guendozi was one Arsenal’s shrewdest business lately. He had a heart of a macho man despite his young age. He was shown the way out for reasons best known to Arteta. He will soon be back in the premier league with Aston villa, and you can bet what Emery will make out of him. Then came Willock, who scored eight consecutive goals for Newcastle last season. Arteta also let him go on a cheap. Willock could easily have slotted into Xhaka’s position naturally. Now its Smith Rowe who he is frustrating, in favour of some Viera who he wants to prove against all common sense, that it was not a foolish piece of business. In a sense, it was just fine that the season ended the way it did. Lessons have to be learnt. We still do not know why Lunberg, who in my opinion, has a better claim to a legend status at Arsenal than Arteta, had to jump ship. Arteta must change his ways or be shown the door

  12. Arsenal couldn’t hold there nerve
    There are so many reasons why arsenal failed woefully after a very commanding lead. Just look at the game against Bournemouth for instance when they came back to win, look at the celebrations it was like it’s 2/3 games to go but in reality there was about 11/12 games left
    Almost every Arsenal game from February onwards was stressful. In fact, go back to the Newcastle 0-0 game and look at Arteta. He’s already cracking with months to go. In the final minutes of games they were either desperately holding on for a point after being ahead (Liverpool, West Ham) or desperately trying to come back after messing it up (United, Brentford, Villa, Bournemouth, Southampton, even Sporting in Europe). They somehow tired themselves out despite only having one competition to focus on just by making every game exhausting, both mentally and physically..
    There are quite a few reasons why arsenal failed, the management team failed to keep everyone on check knowing that against a team like city it could change in a blink of eye, a team with 8 points above city with a game in hand with about 14games left could hand themselves double digits behind, how that happened is still a miracle

Comments are closed

Top Blog Sponsors