Arsenal Injury Crisis: Who Will Be Our Lucky No. 7?
This season, Arsene Wenger made only one major signing, Petr Cech, for 11 million pounds and he had stayed for Chelsea for 11 years. Chelsea currently has 11 points and the difference between Chelsea and Arsenal in the table is 11 points. However, I don’t know if they would finish the season in 11th place and I certainly do not know if their controversial manager will be sacked in the 11th month of the year 2015. Okay, I’m drifting away…
In my years of supporting Arsenal football club, I have seen the team go through a whole lot. One of the norms an Arsenal fan faces season after season is the usual tales of injuries that plagues the squad but the challenge has always been – are the replacements good enough? In the 10/11 season, Thomas Vermaelen suffered a nasty Achilles injury that sidelined him for months and he was replaced by Johan Djourou. In fairness to the Swiss defender, he put up a great shift but when he was made to provide cover as an auxiliary right back when the Gunners had a fullback injury crisis in the 11/12 season, he struggled badly. In a strange twist of fate, the Gunners lost Andre Santos to an ankle injury, Kieran Gibbs went for a hernia operation, Carl Jenkinson had a back problem and Bacary Sagna broke his leg. Just great innit?
The injury gods have ravaged Arsenal yet again this season and a squad that looked really deep at the start of the season, which was one of the reasons the manager didn’t invest this summer, has become so depleted, even to the point where we have doubts on the player that would start on the right wing in tomorrow’s clash with Swansea.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain began the Community Shield on the right wing but he lost his place in the side to Aaron Ramsey that started playing in that position in the tail end of last season. Both players are currently injured. Then there’s Theo Walcott that played more or less his entire Arsenal career on the right wing before he was converted to a center forward very recently. Walcott, errrrr, is injured. There are some players that have featured on the right wing at some point in their Arsenal careers, such as Jack Wilshere, Tomas Rosicky and even Danny Welbeck but sadly, they are crocked as well. Serge Gnabry would have been a player that would have gotten another chance in the squad but sadly, he is rotting in the dungeons of West Brom’s bench.
This leaves Wenger with a couple of options – playing Alexis Sanchez on the right wing, trying out Santi Cazorla on the right wing (he has featured there before), moving Hector Bellerin further forward, giving a chance to Alex Iwobi and finally, giving Joel Campbell an extended run of games. Each of these options are plausible but they all have tactical implications.
Option 1: Alexis on the Right Wing
When Alexis Alexis joined the club last season, he played on the right wing while Mesut Ozil played on the left. This was to accommodate the Ramsey-Wilshere axis in the middle. If Wenger opts for Alexis on the right wing, he would need to draft in a new left winger, and this would be disruptive to Arsenal’s attacking play, because we build up many attacks through Sanchez on the left. He cuts inside and has a good shot on him, and it’s always good to play to the strengths of one of the best players in the team.
Option 2: Santi Cazorla on the Right Wing
As we all know, Cazorla is one of the most versatile players in the team and he has featured in several positions in the starting XI but his new role as a deep-lying playmaker is very vital to the team. His ball retention skills are second to none and he is always available for a pass, as well as knowing fully well what to do with the ball when he receives it. He also offers some protection to Francis Coquelin, and he is a good tackler of the ball.
Pushing Cazorla to the wing will be detrimental to the team because of the amazing shift he’s putting at the moment. The fact that Mikel Arteta is injured doesn’t make the idea plausible.
Option 3: Moving Hector Bellerin Further Forward
The discovery of Bellerin was a revelation last season and he has picked up where he left off this campaign, shoving Matt Debuchy further down the pecking order. With Ramsey drifting infield, Bellerin has played like a modern-day Dani Alves, marauding the right flank as a fullback and pseudo-winger. He is confident in taking on his markers and he has a very good delivery on him.
Wenger can go all ‘Eboue’ on him by pushing him further forward, thereby allowing Debuchy to play behind him but with the Frenchman in such a dire run of form, Wenger might not want to take that risk – especially with the class of opposition the Gunners are playing in the coming weeks.
Option 4: Giving a Chance to Alex Iwobi
Alex Iwobi has some talent in there but as Wenger said in the wake of the defeat to Sheffield Wednesday, he and his fellow youngsters are not ready. He showed off his fancy footwork against Sheffield Wednesday but he failed to make any significant impact on the game.
Option 5: Giving Joel Campbell an Extended Run Out
Many Arsenal fans have their opinions about Joel Campbell but in the current situation, deploying him on the right wing seems to be the most plausible option because there would be no major tactical changes with his introduction. He may not be the most talented player in the team but he puts up some effort and he can show his worth with an extended run of games.
That wasn’t a double right?
In conclusion, it’s actually Arsene Wenger’s problem, not mine but I trust the boss to make the best decision for his team.
As they say in this part of the world – Arsene Knows Best.
Download the Gooner Daily BlackBerry App to receive notifications on your Smart Phone when a post is published.
Follow Gooner Daily on Twitter @goonerdaily. I’ll follow back
Visit Gooner Daily’s Facebook page.
Click on the “Follow button” to join Gooner Daily’s Mailing List