The Gunners have been far more successful with their two young stars on the field than when they have missed out
Arsenal coach Mikel Arteta admits that his team relies too heavily on Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka, and hopes the Gunners can find a way to win when the two stars are rested.
The Gunners’ record with the youngsters on the pitch is far superior to when they have been left out of the starting XI, and they were both on top form midweek to help their team through to the Europa League semi-finals.
With fixtures coming thick and fast, though, their manager is keen to avoid burnout – and called on the rest of the squad to step up in their potential absence.
What was said?
“They know that playing every game is impossible, so we have to change those stats,” Arteta said of his team’s reliance on the pair.
“That’s what we have to do. We have to find that solution.
“It tells a lot about what has happened this season. Eight months ago, if anybody had said we were going to rely so much on these two guys to get a result, you would have said we were not going to be in a strong position.
“That is our reality as well. We have to change that reality because it doesn’t go in our favour.”
The bigger picture
Saka, 19, became an established first-team player for Arsenal during 2019-20, while the 20-year-old Smith Rowe had to wait a little longer for his opportunity, having made just two Premier League appearances with the club going into the current campaign.
Both have stepped up a gear over the course of the season to become an essential part of Arteta’s plans.
Arsenal have picked up 22 points from 10 league matches with both youngsters in the starting XI, and just 23 in the 21 games one or both has been missing.
As a result the Gunners lie a lowly ninth, 10 points outside the Champions League qualifying positions – meaning that success in the Europa League may well be their most straightforward path available to Europe’s top club competition.