Mikel Arteta was eager to rely on his players’ versatility, dedication, and quality for Arsenal to mount a successful title defence this time around.
Aside from our new keeper David Raya, he made sure to bring in flexible players like Jurrien Timber (who is currently out with a long-term injury), Kai Havertz, and Declan Rice to help him implement squad rotation.
He planned to have healthy competition in his squad, play players who are at the peak of their game, and bench those who are struggling in order to get the most out of his team, while keeping his players fresh.
We didn’t see the Spaniard’s ruthlessness in the first four games of the season. However, in Arsenal’s 1-0 triumph over Everton at Goodison Park yesterday, we saw Arteta’s brutal side. He benched struggling Kai Havertz for Fabio Vieira, who had provided a spark every time he came in as a substitute; he also unexpectedly benched Aaron Ramsdale for David Raya.
This squad change worked, and it must have given the Arsenal boss every indication that he needs to be willing to make such brave calls.
After the win over Everton, Arsenal’s first at Goodison Park since 2017, Arteta was asked about his squad selection, and one of the things he said was that none of his players should be convinced they are guaranteed to start week in and week out, as he doesn’t guarantee any player a spot in his starting 11. Every player will have to demonstrate to him in each training session that he needs to play.
“No one is guaranteed a spot. I don’t have a guaranteed spot,” the boss said on Arsenal.com of the tough standards to make it to his starting 11 after the victory over Everton on Sunday.
“You are here to perform at the highest level and to contribute with our best capacity to win games, and that’s what we have to do. It’s not different for anybody, and we set ourselves those standards. Whatever happens externally, it’s never going to be bigger than that. That’s the end that we have.”
For those who were asking for the ruthless Arteta to be unleashed, are you happy now?
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