Mikel Arteta says we will need fresh legs for the game against Benfica in Athens on Thursday, hinting that he would make a number of changes.
A 1-1 draw in the first leg means there is all to play for in the second leg. The boss rested five players from the Benfica match when we played Manchester City in the league.
“I don’t know if it will be five, four or seven,” he said in his post-game press conference.
“We will have to see how they react from today’s performance. It was a really tough game physically for both because it was full gas from the beginning and we will see who will be available and fit to be there.
“Obviously we need a fresh team and we need legs as well because then the decision making and everything becomes better when they are fresh. We will see who’s available.”
Certain players like Granit Xhaka, Hector Bellerin and Bukayo Saka have played a lot of games recently due to their importance to the team.
Mikel Arteta was asked how he’s managing the squad’s fitness, he replied:
“Well, it’s hard because everyone wants to play and everyone wants to be available for every game, so if anything, I feel sorry for the players that they cannot play or are not playing more.
“But everybody is doing their best all the time to be available, which I really value a lot. But it’s true that there are players with lots of minutes and we don’t have the players to replace them, unfortunately.”
We are 10th in the league, and European dreams are looking off via the league. The pressure to win the Europa league has increased, as it is the other route to qualify for Europe.
“It [the Europa League] is really important, but obviously every defeat now in the league puts us in a much more difficult position.
“We have to take it game by game and we need a run of games. I think we have a big run of performances, but we’ve lost three games now in different ways and it’s not what we want obviously.”