Arsenal have started the season brilliantly and sit top of the Premier League and their Europa League group, but after a weary display in their draw 1-1 at Southampton on Sunday, some have questioned if fatigue is setting in.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is adamant that is not the case, perhaps partly because he does not want such a thought manifesting in his players’ minds, and he has kept rotation fairly limited as a result.
Martinelli and Saka, both 21, have started all but two games this season and it has led some to suggest they could burn out. Brazil striker Jesus, though, is not worried about that.
“They are machines, I joke with them,” he said.
“I think I am a player with a lot of energy and I run all the time, I fight all the time. But when I train every day with them I realise I am not even close to them.
“They just don’t stop. They are machines, quality players as well, and they’re still young. I am lucky to play with them.”
Arteta is expected to name a strong team tonight, with Arsenal needing a point to guarantee top spot in Group A. That would give them a bye to the last-16 and mean they avoid playing the likes of Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus and Sevilla in the last-32.
“This competition is getting harder and harder,” said Arteta. “It looks like the next round will be extremely competitive. That’s why finishing [top] and avoiding another two games is such an important thing for us.”
Tonight will be a good test of the Gunners’ powers of recovery.
Their second-half performance at Southampton on Sunday certainly suggested they are suffering with fatigue as they dropped points on the south coast and they will know they cannot afford a similar performance here in the Netherlands, with second-placed PSV going all out for the win.
At Emirates Stadium last week, the Dutch side were toothless as they sat back and tried to steal a draw — in stark contrast with their usual attacking style.
Such a plan will not be in place tonight, though, as PSV are five points behind Arsenal and only a win will keep alive their slim hopes of topping Group A.
We’re going for a miracle.
Even then, the Dutch side would have to go to Bodo/Glimt next week and win, while also hoping Arsenal slip up at home to Zurich.
“We’re going for a miracle,” said PSV manager Ruud van Nistelrooy.
“If you win yourself and Bodo doesn’t win, then you’ll be there tomorrow. We all hope for that. But it may just be that the decision will not be made until next week in Norway.”