Mikel Arteta calls for increased squad sizes as Arsenal suffer fresh injury blow


Mikel Arteta, Manager of Arsenal, looks dejected following the team's defeat during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Brighton & Hove Albion at Emirates Stadium on May 14, 2023 in London, England. 

Mikel Arteta has called on the Premier League to increase squad sizes as the Arsenal boss lost another two key players through injury.

Both Gabriel Jesus and Thomas Partey face “a few weeks” on the sidelines after Arteta confirmed the pair have suffered setbacks.

Arsenal, who remain unbeaten in the league so far this season, host winless Sheffield United on Saturday but Jesus will miss out with a hamstring issue suffered in the midweek Champions League win at Sevilla.

Partey is absent having pulled up in training with a muscular injury which the PA news agency understands could rule him out until December.

Arteta has already been without a host of players for periods of the campaign with the likes of Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Leandro Trossard needing treatment while summer signing Jurrien Timber is a long-term absentee following knee surgery.

Arteta has often criticised footballing authorities for the number of fixtures in the calendar but, with that particular cork out of the bottle, he feels the solution could now lie in the Premier League expanding squad sizes beyond the current limit of 25.

“If we have more games, more competitiveness and physically the standards are higher – by playing more minutes – we have to do that or instead of five subs, we have 10,” he said when asked about increasing squad sizes.

“The five subs is now something normal but it was a big fight to go from three to five. I cannot imagine the game in the conditions we are in today after last year and the World Cup without five subs, it would be so difficult.

“If the calendar extends, for sure we would have to think of not dropping the quality. The only way to do it is players have to have certain availability and you need players to pick.”

“When is this going to stop and how long will it take for us to make the right decisions? The laws will change and probably our capacity to do things during games will change as well. We will have to adapt, for sure.

“We will need more players. The players have a certain amount of energy. The battery lasts so long and we will burn them. We will need more players if that’s the case. We have to adapt.

“There are periods sometimes where you get really unlucky, and sometimes things that are really difficult to prevent. When you are loading players more and there are players who haven’t done it in the past that risk increases.

“We try to manage every single thing to control it, but there are things that are difficult to do and we have to accept that.”

Martin Odegaard is available and, despite being substituted in the last two games, Arteta is backing his captain to come good.

Asked about recent criticism of Odegaard’s performances, Arteta said: “(It’s because) he’s an incredible player and he’s doing so much for us.

“He’s our captain. We expect him to step in all the time like with the other players, and this is great because that’s the role that he has.

“We have developed him into that player, that person, and now it’s about maintaining and sustaining that level. That’s the challenge.”

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