Daily Archives: January 10, 2014
With the FA Cup third round now a distant memory, the Gunners have turned their focus to an absolutely vital encounter against Aston Villa that takes place on Monday. Fellow title hopefuls, Manchester City and Chelsea play on Saturday and if things go their way, they could usurp Arsenal from the top of the table, albeit temporarily.
With Arsenal observing events unfold on Saturday, there could be an extra amount of pressure heading into the game at Villa Park and with no Theo Walcott to score those goals out of the blue, the current lot that are fit will have to stand up and be counted.
Speaking of fitness, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain featured for 45 minutes in Arsenal’s Under-21s cup victory over Fulham yesterday evening. The Under-21 team had a rather experienced outlook with some fringe first-team players like Carl Jenkinson, Emmanuel Frimpong and Ryo Miyaichi getting some game time as well.
The Ox began the game on the right wing, but he switched sides with Miyaichi as the game progressed. He also exchanged passes with Benik Afobe but his attempted chip sailed effortlessly over the bar. The Ox continued to influence the game by swinging a free kick that was headed over the bar by Afobe.
He even had a shot that was saved by the Fulham Under-21s goalie but after the halftime break, the Under-21s manager replaced the lad with Jon Toral in his bid to work his way to full fitness.
Thomas Eisfeld scored what proved to be the winner on the 59th minute. Nico Yennaris darted towards the byline and swung a cross that was controlled by Miyaichi. The young Jap teed up Afobe but his blocked shot rolled to Eisfeld’s path and he wasted no time in poking the ball home to send the Gunners to the next round of the Under-21s Cup.
Oxlade-Chamberlain in a conditioning phase at the moment and he could make the bench on Monday in the match against Aston Villa. Having a player of his quality at the team’s disposal is vital to the team’s title challenge because Wenger would need every fit player he can get for the run-in.
A more realistic target for the lad would be the home clash against Fulham on the 18th of January and I’m positive that he would be relishing the opportunity to play in front of the Emirates faithful again. Like Lukas Podolski, it would be nice if he makes a goalscoring return as well.
After playing with his match-rusty teammate, Carl Jenkinson has stated that the Ox’s return is a big boost to the team,
“It has been tough for him, Chambo is a very positive guy in general, he’s great to be around and that’s why we get on so well and why we’re such good friends.
“But I could notice when he was out that it was tough for him at times. With the first little spell, maybe you can get through it, but it’s a long injury that he had and when you’ve been out for three or four months it can be tough mentally.
“But Chambo has got good people around him who have helped him through it and it’s great to have him back.
“He’s a really good friend of mine but football-wise, he’s a fantastic player who brings an awful lot to the team. To have him back in and around the group is a boost for everyone – he’s only young but he’s a key member of the squad.”
With so many games to play across three competitions between now and May, the Ox can rest assured that he’d get his own fair share of game time as the season progresses.
Arsene Wenger was generous enough to provide injury updates on the members of his squad working their way to full fitness. The extent of Theo Walcott’s injury is now old news, but the manager stated that he’s going to have surgery before going through a grueling rehabilitation phase and we can only hope he comes back stronger.
The manager also stated that Walcott’s injury could force his hand into making delving to the transfer market to sign a forward,
“[Walcott’s injury] has accelerated speculation first and of course my desire as well – but let’s not forget about Serge Gnabry who can play in the first team.
“We have Oxlade-Chamberlain back and we have many other players who can play on the flanks so to find better solutions than what we have internally will not be easy.
“Up front we lose Theo as a potential central forward and that’s maybe where we have to look outside. But we hopefully have Bendtner back in three weeks. We are there for the opportunities but it’s very difficult at the moment.”
The manager stated that the game might be too soon for Aaron Ramsey, Kieran Gibbs and Thomas Vermaelen but they have a realistic chance of playing Arsenal’s next league game against Fulham. There are still doubts over the fitness of Nicklas Bendtner and he’s still going to be out for a while.
However, there was some good news over the fitness of Olivier Giroud and Mesut Ozil as the manager confirmed that they had a training session yesterday and will be available for selection on Monday. Congratulations to Ozil for winning the 2013 German Player of the Year award ahead of the treble-winning duo of Philip Lahm and Thomas Mueller.
That’s yer lot on injury news.
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