At this stage of the season, performances are based on mentality. Sides fighting for the league are driven to succeed whilst the form of the relegation candidates brings about a sense of fear and inhibition in their play. For the sides in between these two extremes, motivation can be difficult.
With this in mind Arsene Wenger decided to mix in some younger candidates with the more experienced players for the game against Blackburn Rovers. Having been knocked out of the cup competitions and with the league title beyond them, the intention was to inject some enthusiasm and fresh legs into an otherwise ailing campaign. The thinking behind this is that youngsters are eager to learn and prove their worth – what may seem a relatively meaningless match to the more decorated professionals is a golden opportunity to the fledgling squad members. Carlos Vela returned from the wilderness to make his first league start of the season, yet failed to make the impact that the manager would have hoped for. Far from bringing youthful exuberance, he missed a few gilt-edged chances early on and looked decidedly short of confidence. Serious concerns and question marks have arisen over the Mexican’s development, as he increasingly appears to be another example of the footballing clich