There have been some thought provoking events in recent weeks. Yes, I am talking about injuries and since then we have had a load of people talking about how Wenger has to be held responsible for it. My colleague, Alex of the Tsar Cannon has come up with a post right here where he talks about the possibility of our players being fragile (apart from Alexis of course; nobody can say he’s fragile) and GT’s eldest contributor, Mr. Victor Thompson, has come up with a very elegant allegory for our troubles with his piece of the week.
Having taken into account both of their views, and being the proprietor of The Theory of Alexis– I found myself on the fence with this argument. The view that Wenger is a lunatic is not valid for me. I believe any rational Arsenal supporter would refrain from jumping to extremities about the man, even though this time around he seems to be inviting the criticism to himself. I fully agree that even if Wenger had the info about a possible hamstring problem before the game, he would have done well to keep it to himself and then share only some of the blame instead of being called names by the fickle supporters who run helter skelter at the hint of trouble. However what this says about the man cannot be questioned. He is all for transparency and if this is not him walking the talk then I don’t know what is, and I completely respect his decision to play Alexis because he was trying to get the team to arrest a sudden slide in PL form and the game was a must win to do that.
Knowing that Alexis had a hamstring problem and even then playing him was a mistake. However, the point that Wenger was trying to make when he said Alexis seemed okay might actually have been that despite all their tests Alexis had come through with no problem big enough to deny him game time (This is one of the points discussed on the Arsecast Extra this week, and I would recommend it to all because it is what gave me peace on Monday). To deny a player as good as Sanchez one has to have a good enough reason. Even though he seems like a stand-up bloke who would take being rested on the chin, perhaps Wenger has to be cautious about hurting his form, so to speak.
I keep an eye on a lot of opinions thanks to all the blogs out there and some of the podcasts too, and conversations with Arsenal fans are always enlightening for the sheer diversity of views. With all due respect to every blogger and podcaster out there, I have not yet seen a solution proposed to the pains that ail us. Some say the transfer window is the best way to sort it out, still others say there is a Coquelin style break out waiting to happen from somewhere within the club (It is Christmas month after all, people keep wishing for miracles). A few are saying its time Wenger stepped aside, and again with all due respect, that is not an option for a club of our stature and legacy. We do not sack managers who have had more than 7,000 days at the helm because we are ‘languishing in second place’ as someone put it on Twitter.
I do not have knowledgeable people around me at college to debate these things therefore the only out I have is writing them down for other people to offer opinions on. Therefore, please do so- all opinions are welcome and appreciated. I will try and look at our options for stabilizing the ship before the Transfer market opens in January. I do this because again and again we have seen transfer speculation being shot to dust by the club’s inactivity and even though some rumours may be true (with Arsene himself admitting to possible transfer activity) I prefer to work on what we already have.
With Gabriel Paulista coming in for Laurent Koscielny I am more than happy. Even though we cannot yet compare Gabriel to Koscielny yet, I am certain the potential is there for Gabriel to emulate and maybe even surpass Koscielny in defence. The way things are going for us these days, one might be forgiven for wondering who we have to deputise in case of another injury in defence. Calum Chambers is a fine prospect and I trust in him to be able to deputise in case of any injury. Although if we get skinned by City and Chambers is in the team, I admit he will take a lot of the flak. For the most part Bellerin and Monreal look injury free *touchwood* and so this is one part of the team I would bet my life on.Carl Jenkinson is doing very well on loan but he is one of the more advanced prospects being prepared for when Debuchy is unavailable so he will not be brought back.
The list of midfielders in the treatment list at the moment is exhasutive. Club captain Mikel Arteta leads a long line including the likes of Jack Wilshere, Francis Coquelin, and Tomas Rosicky. Santi Cazorla has joined the list for an awful three months which till recently also boasted of Aaron Ramsey. In the fit list are Mathieu Flamini, Mesut Ozil, Chamberlain, the returning Ramsey and… well, nobody else. That is the problem and this is where we will be pushed into promoting from within in case of further injuries. Calum Chambers played with the U-21 side last weekend and that too in midfield so maybe he is learning a new position in case of an emergency. This is an astute decision taken in view of the fact that Krystian Bielik is not yet ready to play for us at the top level and definitely not against opposition like we are going to have this month. The Jeff has been making the bench in the absence of most of our midfield and I wouldn’t be surprised if he were to get a few minutes. Also we have Ainsley Maitland-Niles out at Ipswich in the Championship, if we’re hoping for another break out story (He is after all our second youngest Champions League player). None of the loaned out players will be called back because Arsene has their best interests at heart too and would never halt their development to play as stop gaps and then relegate them back to U-21 games when the seniors return. A word here though, if Ozil gets injured our season will well and truly go down the drain.
Truth be told the lack of pace has been showing in recent weeks with Alexis our only obvious weapon on the left and Joel Campbell not able to produce the sense of impending doom that the former does. With Walcott scheduled to return for sure two games before we go head to head with Man City at the Emirates on the 21st of December we will be looking at the possible schematic of the team going into the future. The clash will also be pivotal in the title race so there is that, and City are missing a lot of players too so it should be interesting. The absence of Jack, Cazorla, and Coquelin will enforce a somewhat different set up than the last time we met them and came away with a win, although it must be said that it was an away game and this will be at home. Giroud’s presence will be useful, whether he plays from the start or as a super sub, because we might be playing a lot of long balls up the pitch as a last ditch effort and nobody else in the frontline can hold a ball against the likes of Vincent Kompany and Nicolas Otamendi. Alex Iwobi being the only possible promotion from within, the options are thin. Despite all this I see no possibility of any signings in January. There may be another midfielder signed if some reports are to be believed, but a CF is almost out of the question with nearly half a 2011/12 season starting XI coming back into the fold in January.
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In the games Alexis will miss, we need somebody to step up big time with some goals. My bet is on Ramsey to come through with match winning contributions as he has done in seasons past, and hopefully Joel Campbell can put up some good performances. If Ramsey is shifted into the middle of the pitch the Ox should also get a healthy run of games because Walcott is not going to be used on the wing unless it’s an emergency.
Injuries or not, I swear to holy hell, Arsenal F.C. is the greatest team the world has ever seen. And if you do not believe in them when they are so close to the top, if you cannot give them the extra boost from the stands, if you cannot be strong in the face of mild troubles then you cannot be an Arsenal fan. We all have our doubts and they may or may not be valid but they should never come between us and our support of the Arsenal.
At this moment in time I am reminded of the wonderful words of Rudyard Kipling:
“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with worn out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss;
And- which is more- You’ll be a Man, my son!
We’ve triumphed and now we are staring disaster in the face, it is time to have the same belief at both times. Arsene has watched his team destroyed by money and by injuries, and he has built them up again and again with the same class to play top, top quality football. This is the season he is willing to go all in or bust, that is why he was willing to risk Alexis. He’s gotten a sniff of the top, as have we. It is time to prove worthy of the team and be happy that our club has a place under the sun. We must learn to be happy for a while.
Till later then. Come on You Gunners.