The fringe players did not cover themselves in glory on Tuesday night against Sheffield Wednesday.
They certainly comforted Wenger’s opinion that they aren’t as good as the regular starting 11 players that were left at home in London. Being a fringe player is tough, as you cannot bring any consistency to your game when you find yourself in and out of the team. It makes it hard to settle in any rhythm.
As usual, Arsène Wenger gave the fringe players the opportunity to show they can compete for the shirt in the League Cup ties. Mathieu Debuchy, Kieran Gibbs, Per Mertesacker, Calum Chambers, Mathieu Flamini, Joel Campbell and Olivier Giroud were supposed to help the youngsters around them settle into the game. They were supposed to lead by example.
They miserably failed, and you would have to think Wenger will not entertain the idea of using them again unless there are many injuries or heavy legs for the regulars.
If you take into account the other games where Wenger rotated the squad (Olympiacos, Dinamo Zagreb and Spurs), those fringe players did not really put themselves forward for a recall in the first team big games. Flamini’s brace against Spurs, in my opinion, was nothing but a statistical nonsense.
This really leaves those players in the wilderness, as there won’t be many games where Wenger will willingly rotate the squad until the FA Cup starts. Champions League and Premier League games are a must win and the best team is likely to be played from now on.
The only saving grace for those fringe players is the current injury level, with the count being at eight after Tuesday evening. Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mikel Arteta, Aaron Ramsey, David Ospina, Jack Wilshere, Tomas Rosicky and Danny Welbeck are all injured. That means Joel Campbell, for example, will probably start the next game against Swansea as no other senior players are an option.
Let’s hope that when they do step up on the pitch, they can reach a decent performance level so the team doesn’t suffer or drop precious points.