Mikel delighted to have more options to rotate

Mikel Arteta holds a team talk during the game against Leicester City

Having seen a number of our squad return from injury, Mikel Arteta feels that he now has many more options when it comes to his team selections.

Having previously made very few changes to his starting line-up this term, the boss believes that the likes of Thomas Partey, Emile Smith Rowe and Reiss Nelson as well as his January acquisitions have given him much more licence to tweak his team depending on the opponents.

Saturday saw Leonardo Trossard replace Eddie Nketiah up front, with Gabriel Martinelli returning to the team out wide and Arteta believes that flexibility to rotate will be vital, especially as we now face the prospect of six matches in 19 days starting with the visit of Everton on Wednesday night.

When discussing what his starting line-up may look like for that game, he said: “We assess that situation every single day. The fact [is] we have options now - we have players coming back from injury giving us alternatives, which is going to be crucial. Players can’t maintain the same level for 10 months - it’s just impossible.

“We need to change and we have to generate alternatives and be more unpredictable for opponents sometimes as well. We have those options now.”

One player who is working his way back to full fitness is Partey, who came off the bench at Leicester City after missing the previous two games with a muscle injury.

The boss isn’t aiming to rush him back just yet though, adding: “He hasn’t trained much. He had a session and he will train today. It is what it is. He was out for a few weeks and he needs to get back into the rhythm.”

Last night also saw Jakub Kiwior and Smith Rowe feature for the under-21 side as they aim to get some vital match sharpness as we begin to juggle the demands of the Europa League on top of our Premier League schedule again in the coming weeks

Reflecting on their performance in the 1-0 loss to Chelsea, Mikel said: “They were really good. Obviously they needed some minutes and at the moment they haven’t had much exposure, for different situations. It was great to see them on the field because we are going to need them in the next couple of games.

“I’m thinking about what’s best for the team and the players who earn the right to play minutes, that they all deserve. We’re going to try and do that in the next couple of games.”

Watch the whole of Mikel's pre-Everton press conference

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