Paul Merson has criticised some of Mikel Arteta’s recent decisions, whilst looking ahead to Arsenal’s visit to Crystal Palace.

Arsenal take on Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Monday evening. Mikel Arteta will be hoping his side can maintain their strong start to the new Premier League season, having beaten Nottingham Forest at the Emirates Stadium on the opening day.

Arteta made some bold changes for the game against Forest. Most notably, centre-back Gabriel Magalhaes was dropped to the bench after 73 consecutive Premier League starts for Arsenal. This meant that Thomas Partey could play at right-back, despite usually operating in the middle of the park.

On top of that, summer signing Jurrien Timber was given the nod at left-back. Unfortunately, the Dutchman picked up an ACL injury that will rule him out for the foreseeable future.

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Arteta is consciously trying to make Arsenal more unpredictable this season. The Spanish coach has a stronger and deeper squad than ever to choose from, so will look to shake up his starting XI on a regular basis throughout the campaign.

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Arteta selections under the microscope

This is a risky strategy, as the Gunners could lose cohesion and fluency on the pitch if too many changes are made, or Arteta gets too experimental. If Arsenal can keep winning games whilst rotating, though, then that will help them to maintain their momentum and ability to challenge for silverware right through to the bitter end of the season.

However, former Arsenal midfielder and pundit Paul Merson, believes this approach could backfire on Arteta. Reflecting upon the win over Nottingham Forest, Merson told Sportskeeda, “I didn’t like the fact that Thomas Partey started at right-back ahead of Takehiro Tomiyasu. I also don’t see Kai Havertz as a midfielder, however, I have faith in him and he is the kind of player you want when games open up. It will be interesting to see how Mikel Arteta goes about using these players over the course of the new campaign.”

Arsenal paid £19.8 million to sign Takehiro Tomiyasu in 2021. His versatility has established him as a useful utility option for Arteta to call on. However, the Japanese defender could be due more starts following Timber’s injury. 

Despite his selection concerns, Merson is confident that the north London club can still secure a positive result against Crystal Palace. He said, “Crystal Palace had a great result last week and they will cause Arsenal problems. But they are unlikely to cause enough problems to get a win over them…Crystal Palace 0-2 Arsenal.”

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