Hello everyone and welcome to another week at the Arsenal,
Another North London Derby has been contested and I’m sure most of you will agree with me that it really felt like two points dropped after what was a really dominant display from our lads on the day. Circumstances conspired against us it seemed though, as on the stroke of halftime we lost two of our midfield triumvirate to muscle strains and a hobbly Wilshere remained on after turning an ankle. The pre match squad selection was slightly surprising as Alexis was left out again in favour of an admittedly good, Chamberlain. Spurs offered up nothing other than a few ill conceived counters and managed to score off the back of yet another error from one of our own. It really felt like a day that should have seen us come away with a good win over inferior opposition.
In the aftermath of the game during the week so far we have been dealt some body blows, with the news that both Arteta and Ramsey will miss 3-4 weeks with calf and hamstring complaints respectively. I know it is easy to scoff when we have seen and heard strains to Arsenal players take a hell of a lot longer than a standard recovery time, but on face value, 4 weeks is certainly long enough to be without two such influential players. Arteta’s calf injury is a concerning point in more ways than Ramsey’s string. Calf injuries are notoriously difficult to over come and are known, in aussie rules football circles at least, as “old man” injuries. With Arteta’s role in the squad as the heartbeat of the midfield not yet able to be really employed this season because of an earlier rolled ankle and current replacement, Mathieu Flamini not quite cutting the mustard, we are yet to really hit our stride as a team in any two games. Mikel has been in line for a lot of heat recently but make no doubt about it, he is hugely important to the way this team functions and our indifferent start to the season reflects that.
Of course, his is not the only absence in the squad that we are currently dealing with and we find ourselves again on top of the injury league table at this early juncture, with a bit of a headache at the selection table as we look to an important champions league clash tonight against Galatasaray ahead of the bum puckering trip to Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
With Jack Wilshere also under a cloud for the tonights clash and the need for victory against the Turks, the selection of the squad tonight is more difficult than anyone would have anticipated (or liked) at this time last week. Arsene will also be looking with one eye, at the game against Chelsea where we have quite a few demons to exorcise after recent woes at the Bridge. In my humble opinion I can see a return to the squad for Diaby at the base of midfield tonight with his return to fitness and being nursed back to confidence by Wenger, it could really be an opportunity to get him involved especially when our options on sunday may be slightly improved. There is no way I would risk Wilshere to start off the back of that crocked ankle with Chelsea around the corner. I don’t yet trust Jack to make the deep midfiled role his own yet in any case, he is better suited up the field pinging little passes around the 18 yard line with Ozil and company. A central midfield against Gala with Diaby, Ozil and the Ox joining in has enough talent and ability to run our game without fucking around too much with the rest of the team. I’d also expect a return to the starting XI for Alexis, whose form hasn’t really suggested that he be rotated out in the first place. At this stage, this starting XI is going to be under pressure to get results for the next few weeks as important senior players begin their individual recoveries, none of which should be rushed or neglected in any way in order to have them back in the squad earlier than expected.
With an international break coming up after Chelsea, it will be a good chance for everyone to get back on their feet and feeling refreshed, as well as for the manager to assess where he sees this team ahead of what looks like a season defining run of games against teams we should be taking points from in the league.
But that might as well be 5 years away because, right now, the only thing that matters is what we can do this week with the team we have available to us.
Fingers crossed for two glorious victories and no further additions to the injury list…..