Gabby Agbonlahor has slammed Mikel Arteta for putting on Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli, and Martin Odegaard against West Ham on Wednesday, saying he couldn’t comprehend the Arsenal manager’s choice.
After Arsenal were knocked out of the Carabao Cup on a terrible night at the London Stadium, Agbonlahor spoke on talkSPORT (broadcast on 2/11; 6:27).
Mikel Arteta made a number of changes for the contest. The likes of Jakub Kiwior, Fabio Vieira and Reiss Nelson came in. However, with an hour gone, West Ham were 3-0 up and cruising towards the quarter-final.
Gabby Agbonlahor hits out at Mikel Arteta after Arsenal cup exit
Arteta was not ready to throw in the towel however. Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli came on midway through the second-half. And Martin Odegaard replaced Eddie Nketiah with 10 minutes of normal time remaining.
Odegaard would get on the scoresheet with almost the last kick of the game. However, Gabby Agbonlahor expressed his disbelief at Arteta choosing to throw the trio on when the game was all but lost.
“What I don’t understand about Arteta, 3-0 down he brings on Saka, Martinelli, Odegaard,” he told talkSPORT.
“Saka, leave him, let him have a game off! The tie’s over, let him have a game off.”
Gunners boss’ gamble could have really backfired
Arteta will perhaps argue that teams have come back from worse situations. But it was a strange decision to use the trio.
Saka has played a remarkable number of games over the last few years. And Odegaard sat out Saturday’s clash with Sheffield United to let him fully recover from a knock.
There would have a lot of anger amongst Arsenal fans had Saka come on and sustained any kind of injury in a tie the Gunners looked destined to lose at that stage.
While Arsenal supporters would have loved to have won the Carabao Cup this season, anyone will suggest it is at the bottom of the list of priorities – particularly given that it is their first year back in the Champions League.
Arteta took a real risk that could have seen Wednesday turn out a lot worse for Arsenal.