Arsenal’s rotation alternative fails to impress Leeds


From Emirates. It’s nice to have an unprovable theory. It is easy to insist that England would have won the European Championships in 2004 if Wayne Rooney had not been injured (which, by the way, they definitely would). If Abou Diaby had not suffered his injuries he would have won a Ballon d’Or. If Santi Cazorla had not missed most of the 2015/16 season, Arsenal would have beaten Leicester to the title.

It’s brilliant. You can have one thing you believe in, you can talk about it until the cows come home, and no one can ever – for sure – say “no, that’s not true, look”.

The back of that coin, of course, about the provable theory. Because it can very quickly become a rebuttable theory, and then a rebuttal one, and then you have to admit that you were wrong. And acknowledging that you are wrong sucks.

To the quarterfinals! ✊

? 2-0? (FT) #CarabaoCup

– Arsenal (@Arsenal) 26 October 2021

Many Arsenal fans have been running with a dangerously provable theory in recent weeks. Everything would be better if Arsenal only made a few changes, see, and if Arteta used the squad properly. And when will Mohamed Elneny get a run in midfield ?!

Tuesday night’s strong but rotated line-up against a decent Leeds team meant that a handful of these outfielders (who all seem to have had their reputation significantly improved by not getting the chance to do anything wrong) got a chance to earn themselves a starting place in the Premier League .

Cedric got a warning and knocked a corner straight out of play. Elneny and Ainsley Maitland-Niles were far from game changers, although Maitland-Niles was the best in the pair. Eddie Nketiah was lively the first 15 minutes and disappeared until he got a goal.

Gabriel Martinelli chose the rotated men, no surprise from someone who has been in the first team when he trained before, but there was nothing that shouted “choose me” from the incoming men except his energy on the left wing.

They won. But Leeds are in 17th place in the league and made some changes. A teenager made his debut for them. Arsenal were meant to win, this was their chance to actually impress … and with goals from a solid goal and a defensive cock-up, they did not.

???????. ??????. # CarabaoCup

– Arsenal (@Arsenal) 26 October 2021

This is a phase that Arsenal constantly seem to be stuck in. “Maybe the players we have are good enough, and we are not using them properly.” If we give these £ 15-25 million bench players another chance, maybe it will work this time around. And so they try. And then it does not work.

There is no question of rearranging sun loungers on the Titanic, as Arsenal are not icebergs, sinking badly quickly (although “women and children first” is not wrong when it comes to relative quality).

It’s more like renting your first small student apartment, and every two months you decide to move around your furniture to “create a little more space”. But it actually never works, and that’s why you’ve stuck in this constant cycle, here in April you’re going back to a setting – closet next door this time – that you’m pretty sure you failed in November.

You keep going back to the well with reviews and adjustments because in the end, your room is simply not big enough. Arsenal continue to go back to the well “maybe we give Elneny a run?” because the collection of football players they have collected is simply not good enough. It’s a comforting lie to say to yourself that if you only do a few small things, it will work this time, because the only other option is to just accept that things … will only be bad for a while.

Things will only be bad for a while. Arsenal do not have the players to be good. A look at the squad alternatives is a good reminder that the reconstruction has a long way to go.

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