Four reasons why Arsenal were unable to beat Sporting Lisbon

Arsenal’s dream of cup glory to possibly accompany their Premier League glory is over after Sporting Lisbon knocked them out of the Europa League through penalties. There are many reasons why Arsenal were unable to go past Sporting; here are ours:

1 Underrating Sporting Lisbon

You and I can agree that it wasn’t the strongest line-up Arteta would have played if he wanted to kill off the tie from minute one. How does an Arsenal midfield without either Odegaard or Partey work? For how influential the two are, you can’t just take them all out and expect the midfield to click. Even Saka not starting was a questionable call when he is literally the oxygen in Arsenal’s right wing.

2. Starting a weak team

Arsenal have been fielding a regular starting eleven (other than the tweak of who plays as the striker) in the Premier League, and it has gotten them results. In the earlier stages of a cup competition, it is understandable to give some players minutes, but in the knockout stages, play your strongest eleven or give your opponent all the leverage to beat you.

Nelson, Jorginho, and Vieira are good players, but they should have been introduced as substitutes after the main stars had turned the tie in Arsenal’s favor. Then again, if it was a game of giving people minutes to rest others for Crystal Palace, why didn’t Turner start?

3 Starting worn-out or not-so-fit players

If I were Arteta, I would have rested Martinelli and gambled with a Jesus-Trossard forward line. Martinelli seems to have regained his form in recent weeks, but he should have been rested. Starting with Trossard and then subbing him off for Emile Smith-Rowe could have brought another dynamic to Arsenal’s attack against Sporting. Anyway, was Jesus ready to start in such a tough match? What if he was introduced as a sub and then given a chance to start against Palace?

4. Injuries

Tomiyasu and William Saliba’s injuries must have disrupted Arsenal’s game plan. When going to a game, a coach usually has his ultimate game plan for a particular game. The players that he selects in his starting line-up usually have internalized this plan, thus taking one or two out abruptly disrupts the game plan.

The damage is however done, and all focus for Arteta and his boys now shifts to the Premier League. I hope they are strong enough to see this through.

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