Arsenal has a rare chance to rest some of their most important players before the end.

NEW YORK — You have to be brave to win the Premier League. You have to take smart risks at the right times. Though there is always a chance that a good intentioned risk could go wrong, manager Mikel Arteta got what he wanted when Arsenal beat Luton Town 2-0 to take back the top spot.

Martin Odegaard scored in the 24th minute and Daiki Hashioka scored an own goal one minute before halftime to give Arsenal an easy win over Rob Edwards’s team, which is in danger of going down. But Arteta put his team’s title hopes at risk by making big changes to his starting group to give key players a break.

Watch La Liga, Bundesliga, and more on ESPN+ (U.S.)

Arsenal’s 0-0 draw with defending champions Manchester City at the Etihad on Sunday showed that they are a real title contender and gave them important momentum in a race with Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool.

But Arsenal still has nine league games to go and next week is the first leg of a two-legged Champions League quarterfinal against Bayern Munich. This will make things even hotter for Arteta’s team, and memories of last season’s slump are still fresh at the Emirates. That’s when they lost all nine games and their title hopes.

Read more: The countdown to Kylian Mbappé’s future at PSG starts. Liverpool and Real Madrid are two possible locations.

That’s why Arteta decided to hit the “reset” button and start over with his team. Declan Rice, Gabriel Jesus, Gabriel Martinelli, and Jakub Kiwior all came off the bench to start as replacements. Bukayo Saka was hurt and couldn’t play, though.

The start for Thomas Partey in the Premier League had not happened since August. It was also the first start for Emile Smith Rowe in the league since October, and it was the first start for Reiss Nelson in the league in four years. Aside from that, Leandro Trossard and Oleksandr Zinchenko were also given rare starts.

Since joining Arsenal for £105 million from West Ham, Rice had played in all of their league games until this one. Resting him was a risky choice because of how important he is to the team, but Arteta felt that Luton was in desperate need of a win and hadn’t had one since the end of January, so he chose to take the chance.

Read More: Ranked! The world’s top 100 players in 2022.

“We managed to rotate and freshen the team up a bit,” said Arteta. “Those who came in did a great job.” They changed things. They have to play to have a team. We have to choose those things. The things they did to help the team were great, but now we need to get back on track because Brighton is away.

Because Arsenal has a lot of games coming up, Arteta’s choice to change up his pack makes sense. After the tough trip to Brighton on Saturday, they have two games against Bayern. In between those two games, they play fourth-place Aston Villa at home.

Then they have three games in eight days: Wolves (A), Chelsea (H), and a North London derby at Tottenham (A). And if Arsenal beats Bayern to make it to the semifinals of the Champions League, they will play either City or Real Madrid in the first leg of the semifinals three days after their game against Spurs.

From now on, Arsenal won’t have much time to catch their breath. One big game will follow another. But Arteta’s haphazard team was good enough to beat Luton. It’s not clear, though, whether the same players could beat better teams.

Partey is still not fully fit for games after having an injury-filled season. The former Atlético Madrid player will have a hard time getting back to his best before the end of the season. Also, neither Smith Rowe nor Nelson are great enough to change the outcome of the biggest games. The same could be said about Eddie Nketiah and Takehiro Tomiyasu, who came on as replacements.

It’s said that Arsenal’s weak spot is their lack of depth, which may be why Arteta has fought the urge to switch up his players all season.

This season, Rice, Martinelli, Gabriel, Odegaard, Saka, Kai Havertz, William Saliba, and Ben White have all played in more than 25 league games. However, they need to take a break at some point because they also need to play in the Champions League. They were mostly allowed a break against Luton, and it paid off. They will feel better both physically and mentally.

But Arteta won’t rest his star players again because he has a lot of important games coming up.

Sign Up for Our Newsletters

Get notified of the best deals on our WordPress themes.

You May Also Like

Check out NWSL Vibe: Why Maria Sanchez moved from Houston to San Diego; Marta quits the Brazil national team.

Now that the trade deadline is over, can the Houston Dash finally have a good run?

What are the rules for getting a yellow card in the UEFA Champions League? How do suspensions work in the knockout rounds of 2024?

There aren’t many games in club football with more at stake than a UEFA Champions League quarterfinal that takes place over two legs.

NWSL and USL Super League are about to meet in US football.

The United States’ professional soccer teams for men are still in the middle of their “Soccerwarz,” and the same mistakes and lack of leadership from the US Soccer Federation are making things the same for the women. The NWSL will be joined by a brand-new separate women’s football league this summer. It will be called the USL Super League. Ladies’ […]

Brazil could lose the Nike deal if another company makes an offer of $197 million

Since 1996, Brazil has had a deal with Nike to make their uniforms. The first yellow uniform with the Swoosh on it was worn at the 1997 Copa America. Together, they’ve made what is probably the most famous soccer kit in the world. Remember when Brazil made it to the World Cup in 1998 and 2002.