Arsenal’s Armenian playmaker, Henrikh Mkhitaryan had started the 3-1 loss to Rennes in the Europa League in his usual advanced role but was moved into a more defensive role following Sokratis Papastathopoulos’ red card.
Concise News reports that manager, Unai Emery had Ainsley Maitland-Niles as an option from the bench but opted to continue with Mkhitaryan for the remainder of the game. The former Sevilla trainer explains his decision in his post-match press conference:
“Well, first and mostly, because we were coming after the last match in Southampton with a very big performance like this full back.
“And after this red card, first I wanted to keep the positioning with the players because in the second half we needed fresh players to help more in offensive moments, to take chances, to take options.
“We really didn’t create a lot of chances to score the second goal, but I think Micki worked very well and with a good performance. I think there is no problem with Micki, and for example, his 40 or 50 minutes playing like a right-back, he played well.”
Why Maitland-Niles did not feature
“Because we only had three changes and we needed to decide what were these changes. Micki, I think, is playing well. If he was not playing well then maybe we could think to do this change.”