Arsenal vs Huddersfield: Unai Emery must decide when to rest senior players as fixtures come thick and fast

This week last year, with an important Champions League match against Bayern Munich looming large on the horizon, Paris Saint-Germain manager Unai Emery decided to shuffle his pack.

For the long journey to struggling Strasbourg’s Stade de la Meinau, Emery boldly dropped Edinson Cavani to the bench. Marco Verratti, too. Club captain Thiago Silva did not even make the squad.

Strasbourg gratefully snatched at their chance. Goals from Nuno da Costa and Stephane Bahoken saw them run out unlikely 2-1 winners, rising to fourteenth in the Ligue 1 table. It was PSG’s first defeat of the season – and their first since a 3-1 loss to Nice on April 30, after a run of 25 matches in all competitions. Three days later and PSG lost to Bayern. Emery’s decision to rotate had backfired spectacularly.

But, speaking ahead of Arsenal’s match against Huddersfield on Saturday, Emery claims that he does not remember the shock loss.

“I do not remember. In football, I only remember the present,” he said at Arsenal’s London Colney training ground.

“For me, yesterday is a long time. Instead I think about today and preparing for Saturday, because the football is happening very quickly.

“I learn from my experience and I have been in exciting moments with lots of different teams, but now I think only about the present.”

Emery has a similar conundrum on his hands this weekend. Arsenal took an impressive four points from bruising encounters with direct rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United, but their success came at a price. Rob Holding ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in Wednesday night’s draw at Old Trafford and, with a League Cup tie against Spurs and trip to Anfield on the horizon, Emery must decide when best to rest some of his senior players.

Huddersfield have endured a difficult start to the new season and currently sit just one point above the relegation places, although Emery was keen to stress that he was not underestimating the opposition.

Strasbourg stunned Paris Saint-Germain last winter (AFP/Getty)

Perhaps the Spaniard has learnt his lesson. He is sticking with the big guns.

“I’ve learnt in the Premier League that every team has good players, good organisation, good possibilities in the 90 minutes against every team,” he cautioned.

“On Saturday, the first thing is a very big respect, more than Manchester United, more than Tottenham, because we need a high level in our performance to win against them.

“They are going to push a lot and [will want] a surprise. We are very convinced in our way – work, prepare, respect, push with our supporters at the Emirates and feel the spirit with them.”

Expected Arsenal line-up (3-4-3): Leno; Mustafi, Sokratis, Monreal; Bellerin, Torreira, Xhaka, Kolasinac; Ozil, Lacazette, Aubameyang.

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