With Hector Bellerin absent through suspension, changes were enforced.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles was given the task of playing in a faux wing-back role in his stead, as opposed to the central midfield berth he so desperately craves.
All that leaving Cedric Soares on the bench. An actual right-back, signed for a £5m loan fee, in which he didn’t play, then tied down on a four-year contract at the age of 29 for wages in the region of £75k-per-week.
As a backup full-back, Cedris is far from the worst around. He’s simple on the ball, disciplined and experienced, but not starting-every-week quality. Yet, with the number one choice out, he can’t even get a game. This deal continues to baffle.
Willian, dropped out of the side to much fanfare, didn’t play a minute. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing at all, but the fact he’s raking in £220k-per-week for the next two and a half years sure does. His performances have been shoddy to say the least, and the notion that he’s passing on experience to the younger players is one I don’t buy. Try convincing an Arsenal fan that Bukayo Saka is learning off Willian and not vice versa.
Rob Holding is favoured over David Luiz, who while certainly adds more to the dressing room than Willian, is also making good money to hog a place on the bench. William Saliba could be there instead.
The issue of recruitment isn’t new. We’ve known these three deals, for example, were poor from the start. However, with the trio out of the side entirely on Wednesday, we got a glimpse into life beyond recent short-term foolishness, only with them still on the periphery earning a fat wage.