Just over a year ago, Arsenal supporters were calling for the departure of Mikel Arteta at a time when they had no European football to look forward to. Move the clock forward by that timeframe and the Gunners now sit proudly at the top of the Premier League table and have ambitions to win the Europa League. Everyone associated with Arsenal – whether that be Mikel Arteta, his players or club officials – deserve credit for that level of turnaround, and from putting people in a mindset where more positives than negatives came from a 3-1 defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford. Nevertheless, Arsenal now face a busy schedule with a reduced first-team squad, and there is potential for things to go wrong.
Just like punters can benefit with SvenskBetting, Arteta will naturally look at the positives of having the chance to assess new possibilities in this competition. Limited options in the middle of the pitch and injury concerns elsewhere may lead to some fringe players getting more senior football than they may have previously envisaged, and the quality should still be there to negotiate a group featuring FC Zurich, PSV Eindhoven and Bodo/Glimt. Nevertheless, momentum and preparation is everything in modern-day football, and Arsenal are about to encounter the transition of two matches per week after a year off.
As you should with Bettingsider.me, there needs to be a certain level of thought into the approach to a more condensed schedule than usual. Arteta would like nothing more than to rest a regular, fully-fit, starting XI in preparation for the meeting with Everton on Sunday afternoon, but such are his selection issues that he is not afforded that luxury. A balance needs to be found between risking a poor result against FC Zurich in Switzerland and ensuring that his key players are not fatigued for the clash with a Toffees side who appear prepared to run through brick walls for Frank Lampard.
Arteta’s thinking should centre around protecting areas which Everton may look to exploit on their trip to the Emirates Stadium. All things considered, that is likely to be central midfield and in wide areas, particularly the former with Arteta seemingly having little choice but to field either Granit Xhaka or Albert Sambi Lokonga unless he opts to select Matt Smith and Fabio Vieira, both of whom are yet to start a competitive game for Arsenal. Fortunately for Arteta, he will be able to make at least three changes to his defence, with Ben White perhaps switching inside to hand rests to William Saliba and Gabriel Magalhaes.
However, Arsenal could not be facing Everton at a worse time. Lampard’s side will have had at least a week to rest, recuperate and prepare for the trip to North London having produced one of their standout performances under the Englishman against Liverpool. One one hand, you can say that Everton rode their luck given the amount of times that their more illustrious neighbours hit the woodwork, but the blue side of Merseyside also squandered numerous chances. The end result, albeit a goalless draw, was a wave of positivity, and Everton travel to the capital relishing the opportunity to be underdogs once again.
Arteta will want to line up with the same team that started at Man United, regardless of whether some of his players are not 100% fit. Arsenal’s momentum has come partly through continuity, but defeat with a weaker team against an improving FC Zurich side would also lower the tone at the club. There are difficult calls to make, priorities to be decided, and how Arteta approaches the next batch of fixtures could define Arsenal’s season one way or another.