Daily Archives: September 24, 2013
Just when we thought that Arsenal had sacrificed enough players to the injury gods of North London, the annoying deities have ravaged the squad again to claim a new victim – Theo Walcott. The Englishman was included in the starting lineup for last weekend’s clash against Stoke but he was replaced on the 11th hour by young winger, Serge Gnabry.
Arsenal went on to win the game without Walcott’s services but when Arsene Wenger was asked about the nature and extent of his injury, the manager could only give the nature, an abdominal muscle strain, but he had no idea of when the speedster was going to return to full fitness (via Sky Sports),
“He had an abdominal muscle problem, I don’t really know what it is. Nobody can tell me whether it is just a question of days.
He had a test before the game and I decided to play him but he had a little problem before the Marseille game (last week) and it then became a bit worse.
It’s a bit mysterious, because we don’t really know what it is.”
The Gunners have a very busy treatment table but with Walcott joining the never-ending injury list, Arsenal will be desperately short of options on the right wing as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Santi Cazorla, two players that have manned the right flanks in recent times, are still out injured.
The Ox had a fine game against Aston Villa and even created a chance for Olivier Giroud but a clash with Antonio Luna resulted in the winger wearing clutches, as he damaged his knee. Cazorla also has an ankle injury and it has been mentioned that he would return around the next international break.
Arsenal’s run of fixtures in the run-in will be another cause for concern, as the Gunners take on West Brom in the Capital One Cup (a game Walcott would have been rested) and this would be followed by a trip to an in-form Swansea side, a heated Champions League clash against Napoli, another away trip to West Brom in the league, a home clash against Norwich, one of the first of two games against Borussia Dortmund, an away clash with Crystal Palace and the month of October ends with a Capital One fourth round fixture.
Theo Walcott has grown to become an indispensable member of the squad, and his vital strikes in his 21-goal campaign were important in Arsenal’s surge for a Champions League berth. This season, he hasn’t hit the ground running in terms of goals but it was his assist that was enough for Arsenal to win the North London Derby against their free-spending fierce rivals, Tottenham.
Following the record acquisition of Mesut Ozil, Walcott would have easily bagged himself a hat-trick in the Stadium of Light if he came with his shooting boots.
However, he provided a good outlet for Ozil to thread his inch-perfect passes and at some point it was more of a case of how good Westwood’s goalkeeping was rather than how poor Walcott’s finishing was. He opened his goalscoring account for the season with a technically-proficient finish against Olympique Marseille and we can only hope that the floodgates with open from there.
Walcott’s blistering pace remains his key asset but his overall game has vastly improved as he has become a good team player, creates a lot of assists for his teammates, clinical with his finishing (bar Sunderland, this season) and like Aaron Ramsey, he always wants to improve more on his game. He also has the ability to stretch defenses, which is a very asset for the team especially during counter attacks.
With Walcott, the Ox and Cazorla not available for selection, Arsenal might hand an extended run of games to Serge Gnabry or Ryo Miyaichi. The young German didn’t really impress me against Stoke and besides his long range effort, he didn’t really stamp his authority on the game as he was always quick to pass the ball to a senior teammate. The Capital One clash against West Brom will offer him another chance to prove his worth and I’m sure he would want to take it with open arms.
Ryo Miyaichi is another player that will come into the fray as the season progresses. After successful loan spells at Feyernoord and Bolton, the young Japanese winger had a torrid time in Wigan as he suffered a lot of injuries, and he couldn’t make his mark on the recently-relegated outfit.
Arsene Wenger can certainly do without Walcott in the Capital One cup encounter tomorrow but if he fails to make the starting XI against Swansea this weekend, I see the manager lining up a formation like this,
Injuries are part and parcel of the beautiful game and I wish Walcott a speedy recovery.
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