Mikel Arteta admitted he took a risk by making nine changes for Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Portsmouth in the FA Cup fifth round but insisted he had no choice because some of his stars were still shell-shocked after their Europa League exit.
Arteta’s side reached the FA Cup quarterfinals thanks to goals from Sokratis Papastathopoulos in first-half injury time and Eddie Nketiah six minutes after the break at Fratton Park on Monday.
It was a much-needed boost for Arsenal, who crashed out of the Europe League in a painful last-gasp defeat against Olympiakos on Thursday.
Arteta conceded that fielding such an inexperienced line-up – only David Luiz and Bukayo Saka retained their places – could have put Arsenal’s only chance of silverware this season in jeopardy.
“They fully deserve the chance and I know it is risky to play them in this competition but they are worth a risk,” Arteta said of his young side.
“It was a great atmosphere and Portsmouth made it difficult. We knew we’d have moments we could suffer but we reacted and got control of the game. We got two goals and could have had a few more.”
The other fifth-round ties are on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.