Did Arteta get it wrong with Magalhães’s injury?


For as much as I hate to be a Debbie Downer so soon after we’ve battered Chelsea, I have to ask MIkel why he didn’t sub off Gabriel Magalhães when the Brazilian first showed signs of discomfort. MIdway through the second half, Gabi seemed to pick up a knock right around when Chelsea’s Madueke scored a consolation goal in the 65th minute. It’s difficult to know precisely which knock or niggle really got to him, but Arteta waited until the 85th minute to replace him with Holding.

Has Arteta failed to manage his substitutions? After seeing Saliba suffer an injury against Sporting that seems to have ruled him out for the season​—a setback serious enough to see us drop points in four of the seven matches Saliba’s missed​—it seems worth asking. On one hand, Gabi seemed to suffer his injury at a moment when Chelsea seemed to come to life, what with Madueke scoring (not long after Chelsea fluffed their lines on a previous attack). On the other hand, Arteta had to be looking ahead to Sunday’s trip to face Newcastle. It’s a reflection of the thinness of the squad but also of Arteta’s management that we may have to go into St. James’ with Holding and Kiwior as our CBs.

After the match, Arteta said that Gabi “wasn’t comfortable, he tried for 15 minutes but he couldn’t carry on which was a concern.” If Chelsea had posed more of a threat, sticking with Gabi might have made more sense. The Pensioners were, however, true to their name. They were toothless, tedious, and tired. Once Arteta saw that Gabi was struggling, he really could have sent Holding on sooner. There was also the possibility of sending Tierney in; he eventually replaced Zinchenko, who had switched off on Madueke’s goal.

Perhaps sensing that he had gotten his subs wrong, Arteta threw Partey on just a minute after taking Gabi off. That was his fifth sub after replacing Trossard with Martinelli, Zinchenko with Tierney, and Saka with Nelson. Hindsight is always 20-20, but Arteta seems to have shunned the lessons of last season, not to mention the last few weeks. It was right around this time a year ago that injuries sabotaged our attempt at securing a Champions League spot. With injuries to Saliba and Tomiyasu already entered into the ledger, it does start to feel if only in retrospect that Arteta should have been more proactive in his substitutions.

Suppose that Gabi came off closer to the 70th minute, five minutes after picking up his first knock. On one hand, we might have conceded a second goal. On the other, that might have been a worthwhile tradeoff for protecting Gabi so that he could play on Sunday against St. James’. As it currently stands, however, Arteta may have little choice. He may have to give Kiwior the start alongside Holding.

There are short-term questions and there are long-term questions. We can’t address the long-term questions until the transfer-window opens. It might be too late to address the short-term questions. For example, should Tierney see some time at CB? He plays there for Scotland. It might have been valuable for him to get a chance in the same role as a starter against West Ham or Southampton or as a sub against Chelsea.

Newcastle have scored 13 goals in their last three outings. It hardly feels like the time to be tinkering with our defense, but Gabi’s status may force us to exactly that. I still firmly trust the process but am starting to worry about the finer points. If you can offer any reassurances, I would very much appreciate it…


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6 thoughts on “Did Arteta get it wrong with Magalhães’s injury?

  1. palladio43

    Too much time prancing around along the sidelines and not enough time spent in game management. It has resulted in injuries that need not have been as serious and poor decisions as to substitutions particularly when he has not responded to what is happening on the pitch. He still seems too stubborn as to his lineups and too rigid about his game plans. He either does not recognize what may not be working or is just too stubborn to change. Hopefully he grows up and learns and changes, if not he may have been capable of getting Arsenal from point D to point C or even point B, but maybe not to point A. Recall that Wenger and the Board were perfectly happy to tell us how they were reaching CL every year, as if that was the ultimate prize. If Edu gets him more depth for next year, it will then be on MA to prove that he is not among the elite and not good enough to win the prizes.

    1. Christopher Yap

      yah wenger out. oops. Arteta out. Nice to see the brigade back and sharpening their knives

  2. consolsbob

    For goodness sake, stop whining about Arteta. A young manager in his first job who has achieved more at Arsenal than 90% of his more experienced peers in the PL. Give the man a break, Wenger was appalling at substitutions, always, never changed.

    I back Arteta to continue to develop as the team does. Look where we were and where we now are.

    I have noticed the tone of ‘fans’ changing on several websites since the recent downturn in results. To me that shows an immaturity. I suspect that those actual fans, the ones who turn out week after week to watch Arsenal have a rather more nuanced view of Arteta and his achievements. Decades of watching Arsenal, really watching Arsenal, tends to make some of us realise what we have got and be glad of it. Bad times always come, enjoy the moment.

    1. Jon Shay Post author

      I side with you when it comes to supporting Arteta, and I think this is the first time I’ve directly questioned him (rather than doing so satirically). It will be a disappointment if we fall short of winning the Prem, but that’s still a far better feeling and position than fighting for fourth, which is where most of us as well as the “experts” predicted we’d be. We’re on a pace for our highest points total since 07-08 and a chance matching our highest points total since 03-04. Either one would represent a massive achievement, highlighted all the more by how thin our squad still is. Should we finish second, anyone who is more dissatisfied than excited (if not thrilled) really will have to give themselves a good hard look in the mirror and a swift kick up the arse as well.

  3. consolsbob

    I agree and something else. Who do you think will be the most dissatisfied with coming second?

    His name begins with ‘A’…


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