Arsenal and Injuries: Freakish Coincidence or Curse from Beyond?
Injuries they say, is part and parcel of the beautiful game.
There are a million and one reasons why teams are instructed to register a\25 players for every campaign with the Under-21 youngsters eligible to play. One reason is obviously depth, but the issue of the quality in depth is a tale for another day. At a club like Arsenal, squad depth has been debated on countless occasions and it’s always funny to know that the team always lacks in a certain department with each passing season.
Last season, the acquisition of a striker was key, as Olivier Giroud was burdened in the previous campaign but Arsene Wenger opted for a young raw talent in Yaya Sanogo, and the fans have seen how his fledgling career has panned out so far. Having just three central defenders, or better still, two and a half (Thomas Vermaelen was always injured most of the time) was suicidal but Wenger had the insurance of using Bacary Sagna as a make-shift center back when the club was down to their bare minimums at the back. The fans also clamored for a holding midfielder as Mikel Arteta played far too many games but that challenge wasn’t mitigated.
With Bacary Sagna and Lukasz Fabianski leaving on a Bosman, Arsenal replaced them with Matt Debuchy and David Ospina. With Carl Jenkinson going on loan and Calum Chambers joining the club, he looked more like Debuchy’s deputy but his versatility ensured that he was also going to serve as the back-up center back. Then there was the marquee signing in Alexis Sanchez, a different alternative to Giroud but not the man to serve as an adequate back up.
The campaign began with the curtain raiser against Manchester City and the Premier League opener against Crystal Palace.Yaya Sanogo and Kieran Gibbs picked up hamstring injuries, and Giroud went to the Besiktas home game without his deputy but in the Besiktas game, Mikel Arteta was the next person to suffer an injury, which offered his deputy, Mathieu Flamini, a chance back into the team.
After a horrific first half against Everton, the Gunners fought really hard to claw two goals but with seconds to spare, Giroud charged on Sylvain Distin in his bid to win the ball as Arsenal were pressing for that elusive killer third goal. Distin made a clearance that hit Giroud’s leg but when he landed and stayed on the ground for quite some time, it seemed really serious. Our fears were realized when he learned that the French forward would be out for four to five months, which caused widespread panic in the Arsenal blogosphere. Giroud wasn’t everyone’s preferred forward to lead the line but after watching Sanogo’s shit fest against Leicester, Giroud looked like Messi in the eyes of the fans.
The Gunners responded on Transfer Deadline Day with the acquisition of Danny Welbeck but the new lad needs time to settle into his new team. He would have had a dream debut if his chipped effort that went beyond Joe Hart went in but this was followed by a rather disappointing outing against Dortmund on Tuesday. He had a couple of clean chances you’d have expected him to bury but that level of composure wasn’t there and he was found wanting.
In the game against Leicester, Mesut Ozil and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain picked up knocks but both players were fit enough to feature two weeks later, as the Gunners hosted Manchester City at the Emirates. In that game, Arsenal lost Matt Debuchy to a bizarre injury that saw him stretched off from the pitch. With the game against Dortmund coming up, Nacho Monreal had back problems, Flamini picked up a thigh strain and Chambers suffered from tonsillitis, adding to the Gunners defensive woes. To add insult to injury, Jack Wilshere is the latest Gunner to suffer an injury after he ‘turned’ his ankle in the Dortmund defeat.
“Jack Wilshere has turned his ankle, it’s difficult to say how bad it is because I am a bit cautious.
“Normally it’s not very bad but because of his history I’m a bit cautious.”
These are the quotes from the manager and for a player like Wilshere with a wretched injury record (not even close to Abou Diaby’s record though), it’s okay for one to fear for the worst.
So with just seven games gone, Arsenal has had Sanogo (hamstring), Gibbs (hamstring – recovered), Arteta (ankle – recovered), Giroud (lower leg), Ozil (ankle – recovered), Ox (knock – recovered), Debuchy (ankle), Monreal (back), Diaby (diabytes – recovered, I think!), Flamini (thigh), Chambers (tonsillitis) and Wilshere (ankle) all injured at some point this season. If you add Serge Gnabry (thigh) and Theo Walcott (knee) to the aforementioned list, this indicates that Arsenal has had 14 players that had a reason or two to visit the treatment room this season.
When I read this excellent article about the new fitness recruit, Shad Forsyth, I was very optimistic about his addition to the squad and I’d hoped that he’d do his bit to help the players with their niggling fitness issues and the whole nine yards. However, with each passing game, the Gunners seem to somehow have a player that suffers an injury and at this rate, I’m wondering whether it’s a freakish coincidence or some curse from some power somewhere.
Arsene Wenger has a big squad at his disposal but while he can boast about a plethora of options in midfield, the quantity of personnel in the defense is nothing to write home about. Why he allowed his team to be in this situation is inexplicable. Arsenal can ill-afford to have any more injuries but at this rate, I’m just bewildered and perplexed, wondering why things are panning out this way for the players.
I’ve always likened Arsenal to the mythical creature, Hydra, because if you take out one head, another would pop up but at this rate, if anything happens to the fit defenders we have right now, it would be a nice recipe for disaster. I just hope we can sort out our fitness issues, because the more fit players Wenger has at his disposal, the better for the club.
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