Arsenal’s defeat to Everton on Monday evening was a disastrous performance on every front, which was highlighted by the substitutions and reactions of some of the players.
Eddie Nketiah was substituted on ahead of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang during the second half which raised a lot of questions about Mikel Arteta’s decision making.
This substitution became even more scrutinised when Nketiah missed a gilt-edge chance late into the match to regain the lead in the game.
With the Englishman confirming his departure last week, Arteta’s decision to still give him more minutes than Aubameyang was worrying, and something that could damage the squad morale going forward.
Nketiah’s reaction to missing the chance also seemed to be very telling, instead of pulling his hair out in frustration, as converting the chance could have secured an important victory, he did not seem too displeased about not taking that opportunity.
And he is not to be blamed for underreacting to the miss, as he rejected a contract offer from the club last week, meaning his long-term thoughts are not with the club.
This is why Arteta must be scrutinized for still using Nketiah, especially when your club captain is also on the bench, and is more of a natural winger than the 23-year-old.
Aubameyang is a big character in the dressing room, and Nketiah being picked ahead of him certainly wouldn’t have sat well in his thoughts. Arteta has worked hard this season to improve the squad morale and create a positive buzz around London Colney by improving the squad togetherness.
However, decisions such as the substitutions against Everton, creates the risk of undoing all the hard work that the Spaniard had been praised for in recent weeks.
When Aubameyang came on in the last five minutes of the game he seemed disintestered which was highlighted after the missed chance with the last kick of the game, as he reacted with little frustration.
The ostracising of Nicolas Pepe also does not help, as the Ivorian would have been the perfect player to be substituted on the left-hand side, but Nketiah was chosen instead.
Pepe’s displeasure at being overlooked was clear, as October 30 was the last he started a Premier League fixture.
Arteta has a lot of work to do ensuring that the team regain their form, but also preventing the dressing room from dividing and losing trust with the manager, as that is the current direction they are heading after back-to-back defeats.
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Source by Football London