Is There Any Hope in the Midst of Arsenal’s Injury Crisis?
Everyone connected with Arsenal knows that the club is going through another injury crisis and one must wonder why the Gunners always go through these spells. In the 2011/12 season, the Gunners had all its fullbacks injured but the team had to find a way to mitigate the challenge as center backs played as auxiliary fullbacks and it also afforded Francis Coquelin to make a name for himself as a fullback.
This season, Serge Gnabry and Theo Walcott were the earliest casualties as they’d suffered injuries (both knee) from the previous campaign. Yaya Sanogo was the next player to suffer an injury (hamstring) and in awkward fashion, Olivier Giroud fractured his lower leg in the clash against Everton. Mathieu Debuchy injured his ankle in a rather bizarre fashion and this was followed by another back injury to Arsenal’s deputy fullback, Nacho Monreal.
In Arsenal’s last encounter against Tottenham Hotspurs, the Gunners lost three more players that are part of the very fabric of the team and the injuries to Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey and Mikel Arteta will be a big wrench for the team. Jack Wilshere has benefited from an extended run of games and he even had a magnificent outing when Manchester City visited the Emirates.
Unlike Wilshere that has been in good form, Ramsey hasn’t hit top gear this season but he’s one player that has never been afraid to do his thing on the pitch, whether he’s in a good patch of form or not. After going through a tough spell in his Arsenal career following his recuperation from his fractured leg, Ramsey “kept things simple” last season and he explored a new part of his game that reaped great dividends – his composure in front of goal. His 16 goals in all competitions transformed him into an indispensable player for the club and as expected, the expectations from the manager, his teammates and the fans have become higher.
Since the new campaign began, Ramsey has managed to score three goals for the team but he has struggled for form and it’s really sad to see how things have panned out for him. The ‘Welsh Jesus’ has suffered a hamstring injury that would keep him out for a while and maybe it’s an avenue for the young lad to reflect on his form and come back even stronger. Ramsey is a vital cog in Arsenal’s engine and I hope he gets well soon.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a player that has been tipped for great things this season and he has featured consistently this campaign. When he started ahead of Alexis Sanchez, many fans raised a few eyebrows but he went on to have a stormer, which also included the equalizing goal for the Gunners. This article by Mister Spruce writer, @DisFemiSef, reveals his stats and shows that he’s gonna take center stage this season. The injuries to these players would give Ox an extended run of games and he can only get better.
Unlike the No. 1o’s like Cazorla and Ozil that prefer to drift in, the Ox plays more like a traditional winger and his linkup with fellow Englishman, Calum Chambers, has been impressive thus far. One thing I love about the Ox is his directness and daring style of taking on his man but he also needs to learn when to let go of the ball too. Such things come with more match experience, greater football intelligence and most importantly, maturity.
The absences of Ramsey and Wilshere would also give Santi Cazorla a chance to return to the first team as well as Mesut Ozil getting an opportunity to play in his favored No. 10 role. Surprisingly, Cazorla has found himself on the fringes this season and Ozil has been playing “out of position” for a considerable chunk of the campaign. With Ramsey and Wilshere out, Sanchez and rhe Ox would play predominantly from the wings, which would allow Ozil and Cazorla function through the middle, positions they’re largely familiar with.
The last time Ozil played in the middle, he went on to have a great game but the manager chose to return him to the wings against Tottenham and he did okay there. I believe that he might have done better if he played through the middle because the Spuds were actually there for the taking.
As for the injury to Mikel Arteta, Arsenal have to make do with Mathieu Flamini and hope that his form would improve. He was culpable for Tottenham’s goal but it’s normal to have a bad day in the office on the pitch. However, there’s always the option of playing Francis Coquelin in that position. The young Frenchman excelled admirably, albeit in an unfamiliar role, when the Gunners hosted Southampton in the Capital One Cup. Arsene Wenger also harbors plans of playing Abou Diaby in that role and one wonders if Arteta’s injury would be the platform to hone Diaby in this role.
It’s really unfortunate to have such an ever-increasing injury list but I hope things get better on that front.
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