Mikel Arteta explains why he had to take Jorginho off at half-time against Everton

Jorginho was taken off at the interval during Arsenal’s win over Everton and Mikel Arteta has played down its significance, claiming the Italian was not feeling 100 per cent.

Jorginho was hooked at half-time by Mikel Arteta during Arsenal’s win over Everton after admitting he “wasn’t feeling good”.

The Italian moved across London, joining from Chelsea in January, to provide some midfield cover ahead of the season’s final months. Jorginho’s experience is seen as a major plus, even if he is not a like-for-like replacement for some of the Gunners’ other midfield options.

Arsenal eased to a 4-0 victory over Everton on Wednesday night to extend their lead at the top of the Premier League to five points. Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Martin Odegaard scored – but the decision to bring off Jorginho at the break did raise eyebrows.

Arteta explained his decision after the match, saying: “I am really happy as it was the game we had in hand against an opponent that we knew would make life really difficult for us. We experienced that at Goodison [Park, losing 1-0 in February]. We started the game with some frustration and not really understanding what we had to do and allowed them to run in certain transitions. But after 25 minutes, we started to get much better and the timing of the two goals was key.

“We needed a magic moment there and Alex [Oleksandr Zinchenko] produced that. And then the team grew especially with Thomas [Partey] as Jorg [Jorginho] was not feeling good today. When he came on, he really gave some presence and some stability to the team and I think the second half was superb.”

Jorginho, now into his 30s, is by no means expected to play weekly for the Gunners. Granit Xhaka and Partey have been the preferred two for Arteta for the majority of the season. With European commitments still to fulfil, however, having the extra cover is crucial.

One of the dangers for the Gunners in their title run-in is their lack of squad depth. The north Londoners may struggle to cope with several injuries to key players, prompting their January activity to add Jorginho and Leandro Trossard.

Danny Murphy previously told talkSPORT of Jorginho’s arrival: “It’s a really clever piece of business, that. Partey is struggling a bit, he doesn’t tend to play a full season. You need some cover. I think he is somebody who you know will cope with any high pressure group he’s put into, whether it’s off the bench or starting.

“If they’re still in the race with 10 games to go – which they should be – and Partey’s injured, then Jorginho comes in the team and you know what you’re going to get. He doesn’t quite have Partey’s physicality but knitting the game together, talking to people around him, knowing the position [are his skills].”

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