Mikel Arteta details Emile Smith Rowe injury with pointed Premier League remark

Mikel Arteta has taken a swipe at the Premier League over the congested fixture schedule after Emile Smith Rowe suffered an injury against Leicester on Sunday.

The 20-year-old midfielder had to be replaced during the first half at the King Power Stadium with what appeared to be a groin issue.

“It was a muscular injury, he wasn’t feeling very comfortable to carry on playing so we have decided to take him out,” Arteta said. “Hopefully it is not too serious.”

Smith Rowe has been integral to Arsenal’s improved fortunes over recent months, but Arteta’s fury stemmed more from the unavoidable problems created by a constant stream of fixtures.

“I think it’s absolutely normal that it’s happening. That’s why we needed to change players, because if not we were going to expose our players to getting injured,” he said.

Emile Smith Rowe is tended to by medical staff after suffering an injury

“But sometimes we don’t have that chance as a manager because we don’t have enough players or you have the necessity to win and play them again. But it is insane.

“The amount of minutes and games that these players are playing without any pre-season, without any break, you’re going to get injuries.

“We talked about it and all the managers raised our voices at the start of the season and this has happened.”

Arteta did his best to reduce the workload on his leading stars by making six changes to the XI which started against Benfica on Thursday.

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The likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Bukayo Saka and Hector Bellerin were all named among the substitutes as Arteta boldly selected a number of his fringe men for the clash with the high-flying Foxes.

Fortunately for the Gunners’ boss, it paid off, as superb displays from Willian and Nicolas Pepe helped them come from a goal behind to win 3-1.

David Luiz cancelled out Youri Tielemans’ opener before Alexandre Lacazette scored from the penalty spot, with Pepe adding the third after half-time.

“People probably thought it was a gamble but the players who came in did so because they deserved to play,” Arteta said.

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Smith Rowe is helped from the field as he is substituted
Smith Rowe is helped from the field as he is substituted

“It’s not that we have to rotate. I want to rotate and give the chance to the players. They deserve it. The way they train everyday, behind all the players.

“Only way to do it is to play them. You can use many ways to motivate but at the end of the day it is to be on the field. And I’m so pleased even making a lot of changes we were able to produce this performance.”

He added: “I had a good feeling about it and their performance level was no coincidence. The amount of minutes these players are having to play is insane.”

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