Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has explained why he substituted Emile Smith Rowe in the second half against Bournemouth, despite the winger coming off the bench early in the first. After an injury concern for Leandro Trossard, the Hale End academy graduate was introduced into the game..
The Belgian was treated in the 22nd minute but was unable to continue, forcing Smith Rowe to play on the left and Gabriel Martinelli to move up front. With Eddie Nketiah out with a knock, Arteta is left with a broader concern about his striker options.
“It’s a concern,” the Spaniard said after the win on Trossard..
He approached me and told me I couldn’t go on. When I was tracking back after the corner, I felt something. We had to remove him and assess him to see how he was.”
Given how the decision could be perceived, Arteta’s decision to sub off Smith Rowe after bringing him on may have been a brave one. But it all worked out in the end because his replacement, Reiss Nelson, got an assist and then scored the game-winning goal deep into stoppage time to secure all three points.
The manager explained the decision after the game, claiming it was due to Smith Rowe’s recent lack of game time..
“We didn’t intend to throw Smith Rowe in so early,” he told the media. We knew it would be difficult for him to play for 70 minutes after being out for nearly five months.
But, while I believe he had a positive impact, I felt we needed something else on the left because we were lacking threat and were attracting more players to that side. That’s why we decided to bring Reiss on board.
It could be a defining moment in the season for the Gunners, with the events leading to the win but potentially causing long-term damage to the squad and injuries.
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