More Injury Problems and the Per-fect Vice-Captain
The international break comes hand in hand with paucity of Arsenal news but when you have FIFA 15 on your PS4, you really wouldn’t care. It just hurts to know that all my players from my FIFA 14 Ultimate Team (overall team rating: 88) vanished into thin air and I had to start from scratch in the new game. I pre-ordered the FIFA 15 and got the Ultimate Edition but I have to wait for 40 weeks to get all the 40 free packs that came with the game.
Enough about me and my FIFA 15 ramblings though. From an Arsenal perspective, it has been very disheartening to see another player ravaged by the injury beasts that hover around North London. The Gunners are already without Matt Debuchy (ankle), Olivier Giroud (foot), Serge Gnabry, Theo Walcott (both knee), Nacho Monreal (back), Yaya Sanogo (hamstring), Mikel Arteta (calf), Aaron Ramsey (hamstring) and Abou Diaby (hip) but when the German National Team’s official Twitter handle tweeted that Mesut Ozil was going to be out for 10 – 12 weeks, I was devastated.
Fine, the big-money signing hasn’t hit the heights expected of him this season and I’ve dropped my thoughts in that regard but when I was at work yesterday and a fellow Gooner was “happy” that Ozil was injured, I was bewildered and perplexed. This is one of the best players at the club that is just going through a phase and I felt that the next run of fixtures, as well as Theo Walcott returning to full fitness would have afforded him a chance to regain his form. Walcott’s return is key in the sense that his arrival would mean that he slots automatically into the right wing, while Alexis Sanchez plays on the left with Danny Welbeck spearheading the attack. This ultimately meant that Ozil was going to return to the middle of the park to play alongside Jack Wilshere or Santi Cazorla as the two central midfielders of the 4-1-4-1 setup.
I wish him a speedy recovery and I hope he comes back with a bang for all them haters.
To add to Arsenal’s woes, Laurent Koscielny was sent back to the club after the French FA reported that he’s suffering from chronic tendinitis of both Achilles tendons and when you think that Thomas Vermaelen was allowed to go through the exit door without a replacement defender coming the other way, you may want to tear some hair from your head in anguish. After doing so well to invest in the squad early on, Wenger had the chance to buy a center back and DM but he chose to fold his hands. If you also think of the fact that Calum Chambers has been suspended for the Hull game due to his Flaminization (*Check your dictionary – Flaminization simply means having an addiction for yellow cards), Arsenal’s back line against Hull would feature the likes of Isaac Hayden / Hector Bellerin / Francis Coquelin which wouldn’t be that bad, bearing in mind on how they fared against Southampton in the Capital One Cup last month.
Thankfully, Per Mertesacker decided to hang his boots for Germany following his World Cup triumph and he shared his thoughts on why he made that decision,
“I reflected and last season was very tough. This season won’t be less intense so I needed a chance to rest and refuel. I want to push forward with the club now to show I can still improve. I realised over the last few years that the club really needs me and that was a big motivation to win something with them and then with Germany. As vice-captain I feel more responsibility for my work here and I want to achieve more in my next three years with Arsenal.”
What’s not to love about Per Mertesacker? With Arteta aging / living on borrowed time and Arsenal’s usual tradition (in recent times) of handing the band to the successor following the exit of a captain, you’re looking at the next Arsenal captain and I’d be proud if such a man would be given the mantle of leading the club when the time comes. From his tales of having an Arsenal jersey when he was a boy to the way he made it clear at Werder Bremen that he wanted to join the Gunners in transfer deadline day, he arrived in the Premier League and gave a shaky defense a new lease of life.
Mertesacker is an exceptional footballer, a leader, and most importantly, a defensive colossus. His pairing with Koscielny has been heralded as the one of the best pairing in the League and with 16 clean sheets to their name last season, it’s not hard to see why. In the absences of Vermaelen and Arteta, Mertesacker also wore the captain’s armband and his performance against Dortmund (last season) in his native Germany was one of the best performances I’ve seen from a defender in a game. Mertesacker would have been a pantomime villain if the penalty he conceded against Wigan turned out to be the deciding factor of the game but he showed off great determination to be on the right end of the pitch to head the ball home, sending the game into extra time.
His decision to retire from Germany in service of Arsenal is high up there with these things I’ve seen a footballer do. And for his sake, I hope he remains injury free for the rest of the campaign.
I wonder if that’s too much to ask.
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