The European Super League fiasco has dominated football coverage for the best part of a week.
However, as the dust starts to settle following confirmation of withdrawal from the controversial project from each of Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham, and of course, Arsenal, the focus is slowly switching back to on the pitch action.
For Arsenal, this means looking ahead to a tricky Premier League fixture at home to Everton on Friday night. Both teams still have ambitions of securing European football and are currently separated by just one place and three points in the table.
Anything but a win for both sides would most likely end their hopes of securing a top-six finish, although Mikel Arteta’s men can take some comfort in knowing that winning the Europa League outright would secure them Champions League football next season.
This will act as a big incentive for the Gunners and their progression into the latter stages of the competition is something to be applauded. Despite this, Arteta will no doubt still be disappointed with how the season has played out from a domestic point of view.
It’s tough to be too critical of the Arsenal boss, after all at 39, he’s young in a managerial sense and this is his first head coach role.
Yet, there was a hope that he’d hit the ground running, based on the managerial education he’d have enjoyed as part of the backroom staff under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.
Arsenal’s philosophy and playing style under Arteta does have some obvious influence from Guardiola, however, the Gunners boss has not mimicked all of the former Barcelona coach’s managerial tricks.
And one subtle one that really stands out in this of all seasons is the way in which both managers have utilised in-game substitutions.
As illustrated above, Arteta has made the most substitutions of any manager across the Premier League this season. However, his mentor Guardiola has used the fewest.
It might be expected that because City are generally considered to have the best and deepest overall squad, that Guardiola may be inclined to make the most in-game substitutions.
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Yet it seems as though he’s opted to disrupt his team as little as possible this season, which, as highlighted by the league table, has not only helped maintain strong team performances for the entirety of their matches, but it has also bestowed key players with proper rests ahead of other important matches in both domestic and European competitions.
With a less star-studded side at his disposal, this might not always have been an option for Arteta, as well as having to potentially make forced changes through injuries or red cards.
However the above is at least an indication that making fewer non-essential substitutions and thereby disrupting a starting 11 less could have a more beneficial impact on a team across the course of a campaign.