Arsenal were dealt with a double blow in their quest to finish in the top four. The gunners lost 3-0 to Crystal Palace and lost Keiran Tierney to long-term injury prior to the game. Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta now faces a dilemma in the squad selection as the final run of the premier league approaches. This final stage will decide whether Arsenal makes it to the Champions League or not.
Keiran Tierney has sustained a knee injury post the international break. Moreover, the left-back will undergo surgery for the same per The Athletic. As a result, Tierney’s season is over in a big blow to Arsenal. Tierney could also miss Scotland’s play-offs for the World Cup qualifiers in June as well. Mikel Arteta will have to quickly settle in with Tierney’s replacement if Arsenal are to continue their fight for the top four.
Nuno Tavares, Tierney’s deputy was called on for the Palace game but it turned out to be a disaster. Tavares looked lost, and off his pace which was exploited to its fullest by the Palace wingers. Arteta made amends and took-off Tavares at half-time. This was the second time Tavares was hauled off after starting a game. However, there could be some blessing in disguise for one Arsenal player in this situation.
Record signing could get more chances under Arsenal boss Arteta
Arteta knows that he cannot gamble with Tavares at left-back if Arsenal wants European football. As a result, the manager could turn back his attention to Bukayo Saka. The mercurial talent started his Arsenal first-team journey by playing as the left-back. Saka immensely produced for Arsenal from the left-back position. His daunting and over-lapping runs were a menace to the opponents.
If all Arteta fits Saka back at the left-back, record signing of Arsenal Nicolas Pepe could finally get his chance. The gunners’ £72 million signing Pepe has lost his place in the starting eleven for a majority of Arteta’s stint as the manager. However, in recent times Mikel Arteta was full of praise for the right-winger. Nicolas Pepe would be presented with what could be his last chance at the club to underline his importance.
Although Saka’s displacement could mean less of the attacking threat from the right-wing, still the 20-year-old could light up the left flank. In his 34 games as a left-back or left-winger, Bukayo Saka has chipped in with an impressive 3 goals and 9 assists. The numbers should be commendable for a makeshift player. Nicolas Pepe would be a prime beneficiary if the scenario takes place.
Moreover, the timing of the call of starting Pepe regularly would be a good one. Pepe has made some important cameos in the last few games, which could help now. Arteta called Pepe “terrific” in his early days as the Arsenal manager. Recently as well, Arteta was more than happy with Pepe. The manager said,
“I don’t know what it is, probably he [Pepe] has realised the importance of the end of the season for him.”
“His attitude, his smile, the way he is communicating with everybody, his energy. The way he has trained. His efficiency in training. His application, energy has changed. I think he felt important again.
Arteta further admitted that it “pleased” him as well.
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