Now that the season is in full swing, with some games getting postponed, but all clubs are desperate not to cause any more congestion to an already rushed schedule. Arsenal have been quite lucky so far with players mostly avoiding positive tests, although we have had a few players staying at home because of contact with other positive cases.
It is also quite amazing that our injury list is so short as well, considering the amount of games played lately (9 games in December for example), which is testament to Arteta stopping his players getting burned out by overplaying them, especially the younger group.
We did lose Tierney and Mari to calf problems in our last few games, so it is probably good that they have had a rest now, but Arteta needs to be careful with the rest of the squad as well. When he was asked if there was a risk of burnout due to the amount of games, Arteta told the Mail: ‘Yes. We have been trying to manage it. The fixtures are what they are and we didn’t have a pre-season, which is one of the reasons we wanted the five subs.
‘It was exactly that. But this is just the consequences and this will happen more and more, I think, and to more clubs.’
So we can expect some more rotation tonight, but Arteta admitted there were other factors to consider as well. ‘Yes, but when you are winning, you want to be in the team,’
‘When someone is doing well then you don’t want to take him out because you get asked: ‘why are you taking him out?’
‘The players also want to continue to play because they can’t see the bigger picture, but it’s our responsibility to protect them. We could have taken a big risk with Kieran against Palace and it wasn’t the right one to take because we could have exposed him big time.’
So when you hear readers on JustArsenal complaining about Arteta’s “bizarre” starting line-ups, and think that players like Tierney, Saka and Martinelli should be playing in every game, you need to realize that our players are not robots and need to be rested and kept as fresh as possible.
There is still a long way to go to the end of the season…