Morning all.

Pre City, Mikel Arteta said he believed his team could win but to do so would require perfection from his players:

Then you have to deliver in the right moment the right performance, and it has to be perfection because that’s what this last level demands — absolute perfection in every single ball.

Should striving for perfection sometimes go out the window though and in its place come enjoyment, calmness and basically just forget who you’re up against. Remove the opposition from the footballing pedestal so many in the media have put them on and just play the game as if there’s nothing to lose. After all, What is there to lose at the Etihad against a City team full of great players with a great coach? During pre match interviews, how about saying ‘it’s just another opposition and just another game’.

Not for one minute did any Arsenal player look like they were enjoying playing against City. Perhaps there’s too much information going into the minds of the players beforehand, or just too much pressure before a ball is even kicked. Didn’t Arsene Wenger once say that when his players crossed the white line, he trusted them to go out and play with freedom? I love what Arteta and his players have done this season because I doubt anyone expected us to be top of the League in the final week of April but I think the pressure has got to the players.

Look at the way the media build fixtures up. For a club struggling to buy a win, lose another and it could be curtains for the manager, have another bad game and whichever player is the subject, was a waste of money, isn’t living up to his price tag or even ‘should be sold’ in the next transfer window. The City v Arsenal game was the title decider in their eyes. It wasn’t of course because the title decider is the game which ensures a club cannot be overtaken and we’re not there yet.

Mikel Arteta clearly searches for perfection from his players but what about searching for perfection from himself. For all I know he is but doing nothing about something which isn’t working, isn’t perfection. It’s probably best to say at this point that I’m 100% in support of him but that doesn’t mean he’s perfect. Even Guardiola isn’t perfect despite him possibly believing he is.

Nelson, Nketiah, Smith-Rowe, Kiwior, Tierney – I wonder why Arteta is so reluctant to give them more playing time I wonder. I don’t necessarily mean starting more fixtures but more time during a game when it’s been quite clear the guys they might replace have been anonymous for 45/55 minutes? It’s ok for Nketiah to replace Jesus for a couple of months when the latter was injured so if he’s fit enough for ten minutes against City, surely he’s fit enough for 20, or even 30. It’s not like Jesus was causing City’s defence many problems. Same applies to Nelson who eventually came on for Saka but again, for just ten minutes. Jorginho and Trossard had 30 minutes each, both who in my opinion might have been better starting the match.

Against West Ham, who equalised on 54 minutes, Nketiah came on in the 90th minute, Nelson the 85th. Against Southampton, just three changes were made, Nketiah 72 minutes, Trossard 57 after Vieira had really struggled for an hour and Nelson on 85 minutes. At Anfield, the first change was on 80 minutes. Against Leeds Utd, at 3-0 up, Nelson didn’t even get on the pitch although Tierney, Vieira and Smith-Rowe did. After 80 minutes had been played.

The only conclusion I’m able to come up with is Arteta doesn’t trust all his players and perhaps trusts some of them too much. I’m not for one minute suggesting he starts taking players off ten minutes into the game if they’ve started badly because that can happen to anyone but if it continues, then don’t be afraid to take a player off. He’ll probably be glad to be removed from the situation anyway if he’s having an awful game. I know I would. Not every player subbed is going to have a meltdown, kick water bottles or throw his shirt to the ground and if they do, they shouldn’t be at the club anyway.

I think it’s fair to say that in a ten month long season, a manager needs to either rotate his squad regularly or use his substitutes a lot but if that manager has little faith in the players he has on the bench, there’s a problem. A problem which can only be resolved by either promoting players from within the club who are currently out on loan, or by spending money in the summer.

Summer spending it is then….