Arsenal will embark on a punishing run this week starting with Queens Park Rangers on Friday, they face four games over the next 10 days as the English football goes into overdrive.
Arsene Wenger has no choice but to rotate with a limited number of first team regulars fit and available and will especially struggle to do so at the back. A potential return for Laurent Koscielny this weekend could lessen the load but the back line remains threadbare.
Wenger feels the key to having a successful winter period is to rotate intelligently as to not disrupt the flow of the team but enough so to keep the squad fresh.
The Frenchman told Arsenal Player:
The difficulty is finding the right balance between rotation and the balance of the side without destabilising it. Therefore you sometimes have to limit the numbers of rotation.
Secondly, it’s easier to rotate in the offensive positions than in the defensive positions, where the understanding of each other is very important. You try to combine and you also have to look at the individual fatigue factor.
With the return of Koscielny potentially for the trip out east London to West Ham, Mathieu Debuchy can finally shift along the line to his favoured right back role and allow Chambers a well earned breather. Wenger will (for once) have all six of his defenders to juggle and that’s only positive.
Further forward Arsenal have limited options in central midfield until the New Year, so Oxlade-Chamberlain, Flamini and Coquelin will be in for a fair bit of running around over the week or more.
Up front is where most of the rotation will be occurring. Alexis Sanchez will play his first season in Europe without a winter break, add on the fact he’s barely been rested all season and it’s almost certain the World Cup star will be offered a breather at some point.
Wenger said on the sides top scorer:
It’s a shock to the system for everybody who is not used to it. They are mentally used to a break over Christmas when they can see their family. The players who are from South America used to go home and of course in England they cannot do it.
You have to tell them, ‘Be careful, in England there’s no stop in winter’. Many of them suffer physically.
With Theo Walcott potentially back in the picture it will make the decision much easier to allow Alexis some rest. QPR this weekend is perhaps the best opportunity before a visit to high flying West Ham United on Sunday and then a trip to the south coast to Southampton on New Years Day.
The FA Cup clash in early January with Hull City does offer some respite to field some of the more fringe players but by then hopefully a host of midfielders will return to lighten the load.
With Tomas Rosicky and Lukas Podolski also in the mix Wenger mustn’t be afraid to use all his resources. Being a big fan of the aforementioned duo, it will be good to see them in action again before their inevitable January or summer exits.
How do you think Wenger will play the festive fixtures? Do you think he will rotate much or try and get by with his favourite XI to continue to develop continuity as he’s often done this season? Share your thoughts below..