Wednesdays are never a great day of the week anyway, it’s too far away from Friday and it’s just downright depressing. Well for Arsenal fans, some news made this week’s Wednesday just that little bit worse with many a source confirming that Manchester City danger man Sergio Aguero is set to be fit for the early potential title decider next Monday night.
Aguero is without question one of the most enigmatic forces in the Premier League, a brutally skilful striker capable of the impossible and the thought of him lining up at the Emirates may force Arsene Wenger to play his own South American superstar, Alexis Sanchez. It could be a risk that, in my personal opinion, is not worth taking despite the importance of the fixture, because the Premier League season finishes in May not on December 21.
With our current injury list longer than Chelsea’s Premier League loss record this season, we may have to take extra special care before we toss Sanchez in at the deep end ahead of schedule. The Chilean work horse has supposedly returned to full training ahead of the fixture after spending a week in his homeland nursing his wounded hamstring, however, the question as to whether he’s fully fit remains up for debate.
Hamstring injuries are notoriously difficult to shake off, the sort of injury that requires proper therapy otherwise a simple break into a sprint could cause the plagued muscle to tear. If this scenario were to occur to our beloved Alexis the fallout would be simply unfathomable, another crocked player confined to the side-lines for a prolonged period as our title challenge slowly begins to diminish.
In the recent weeks without Alexis we have actually functioned rather successfully, Joel Campbell and Theo Walcott have been impressive out on the wings while Aaron Ramsey’s energetic displays from central midfield have had us all drooling, and rightly so. Nevertheless, if we are to compete for the top honours we so desperately crave, we need Alexis fully fit and firing, not lying around in the medical room clutching his lactic acid filled muscles.
My view on the situation is this: don’t risk him from the start against City. Yes I am aware of the magnitude of the match but it is a risk not worth taking for simply one game. By all means seeing his name on our bench would fill me with joy but he is a weapon we are going to need if we are to achieve success over this tough Christmas period. Therefore, we need to use him sparingly on Monday or perhaps not at all.
While our post-Christmas opponents may not be of a similar calibre compared to City they will still in my opinion pose significant tests to our credentials. Southampton have been a tough opponent for us in recent years – don’t forget we lost 2-0 in this exact fixture on Boxing Day of last year – while Bournemouth’s form against supposed top sides in recent weeks shows that they will have no fear when they step foot on the Emirates. Our final game of the festive period will be against a rejuvenated Newcastle side who like the Cherries have picked up form of late and dispatched of two of the supposed top teams in the division.
To put it simply, these are not three easy fixtures. They are matches where a player with the supreme class and decisiveness of Alexis could potentially reward us with nine precious points. Nine points is more than the three available from the City match – some basic maths for your right there – but the point is valid, the reward is greater if we perhaps give Alexis just a little more rehabilitation time.
Furthermore, I feel fairly confident that we can overcome the City challenge with the current players at our disposal. We overcame the Olympiakos challenge, we’ve won our last two league games and we also have our German maestro Mesut Ozil firing on all cylinders. Ozil is supposedly set for a rest over the Christmas period which makes it even more imperative that we have Alexis available and fully fit from Boxing Day onwards.
The thought of not having both Alexis and Ozil in our starting line-up makes my skin crawl, a situation which could really derail our season. So maybe Mr Wenger should take a good long hard look at the options he has available and take the most logical route. My advice, don’t jump the gun on Alexis.