Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho may have been looking on at his north London rivals with some envy after seeing Arsenal’s fringe players put in a solid performance in their 3-0 win over Dundalk in the Europa League. Arteta was able to give star players Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Thomas Partey a full game’s rest as Joe Willock stole the show at the Emirates.
Nicolas Pepe also staked his claim for a starting place against Manchester United.
Arteta made a total of 10 changes from the side who lost 1-0 to Leicester last time out with Granit Xhaka the only player to keep his place.
It was up to their fringe players to step up and prove their worth on the European stage and they didn’t disappoint Arteta.
Eddie Nketiah and Willock scored in the first half with Pepe also finding the net with a brilliant finish from outside the box.
And Arteta was clearly happy with the squad depth at his disposal speaking after the game.
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“We made a lot of changes, gave opportunities to other players and I think they performed well,” he said.
“We have a large squad and I wanted to give opportunities to everybody. Today they showed they were prepared when I need them and today they made it more difficult me for selection.
“Sometimes it is about the quality, sometimes it is about the tactical plan for the game. I am very pleased with the performance today.”
But there couldn’t have been any more contrasting feelings for their north London rivals after Tottenham slipped to a disappointing 1-0 defeat to Royal Antwerp.
Mourinho similarly made wholesale changes to his line-up but was still able to name a strong team with Gareth Bale and Dele Alli among those who started.
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Spurs looked a shadow of themselves though as they failed to threaten their opponent’s goal.
Some sloppy play allowed Antwerp to break through to score and Mourinho made his feelings known by hauling off four players at half-time.
Both Heung-min Son and Harry Kane were required to come on but even they couldn’t affect the game despite being in top form this season.
Speaking after the match, Mourinho was clearly frustrated at those on the fringes for failing to take an opportunity to showcase what they can do.
“I would like to make 11. I didn’t make five because I was afraid of a long 45 minutes without any changes to make,” he said.
“I always like to think the players deserve an opportunity. We have a big squad.
“It’s also there opportunity to catch the chance with both hands and ask for more. Tonight my future choices are going to be very easy.”
And the Tottenham boss even took to Instagram to send a clear message to his players in a joking-yet-serious post.
The caption read: “Bad performances deserve bad results. Hope everyone in this bus is as upset as I am. Tomorrow 11 AM training.”
There will certainly be contrasting moods in north London this morning, but all attention now turns to the Premier League – with Spurs hosting Brighton and Arsenal taking a trip to United – this weekend.
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