Fatigue not an excuse, but it is a factor

Playing at midday on Sunday feels really early to me, and I didn’t have to go to Greece on Thursday. Nor do I have to go to Leicester today.

Mikel Arteta says that Arsenal can’t use fatigue as any kind of excuse, which is fine, but it is a factor, and something the manager has to contend with when he picks his team today. Much of the focus of ‘rest’ has centred around Bukayo Saka and I can understand why. He’s been so good, and so important, but we’re all worried we’re going to ask too much of him.

After the first Benfica game the boss said we have to manage his minutes; after the game on Thursday he said Saka was ‘really fatigued’; so something has to give somewhere. Will it be today? I wouldn’t be surprised if he did sit this one out from the start, but nor would I be massively shocked to see him start. It’s such a tough one, and I do think a lot of it has to do with age. Granit Xhaka has, in recent weeks, played just as much and nobody’s worried about resting him to the same extent.

The thing with Saka is we have options. Nicolas Pepe could come into the team. People won’t want to hear it, and I’m one of them, but Willian could start. We have two…