Thoughts on Mkhitaryan’s Injury and his Impact So Far

Henrikh Mkhitaryan falls to ground in pain

Confidence has been restored to the Arsenal camp following their impressive wins on the trot but there was a dark cloud over our silver lining when new signing, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, was forced off following a clash of knees with some Russian bloke with vodka in his blood with our dear Armenian coming out second best. It’s never good when a player indicates to the bench to substitute him because it clearly shows that he can’t take any part of that game and that was the case on Thursday evening with Mkhi.

Alex Iwobi came on in his stead and had a good game by his modest standards but we needed to hear the manager’s assessment (via Arsenal.com) of the situation after the game,

“Micki came off and he will be out for Sunday. He has a scan and the fear is that his medial knee ligament has been touched. We’ll know more about that soon. For how long he will be out, I don’t know.”

When the manager says ‘he doesn’t know’, he throws things into limbo and as expected, some other sports websites have been quick to give their own assessment of the injury because, you know, they seem to work hand in hand with the club’s physio, Colin Lewin. The Telegraph has reported that Mkhitaryan could miss the rest of the season and with the campaign having just a month left, they might just be correct.

That being said, I’d like to take some time out to reflect on Mkhitaryan’s fledgling career with the Gunners following his swap from a disastrous spell at Manchester United in January. 12 games, two goals and six assists has been a very good return from the attacking midfielder and the Gunners are right to expect more from him as he’s a player of immense quality.

Having Mkhitaryan in the side also relieved the creative stress off Mesut Ozil as the Gunners could also boast of another attacking midfielder that has a penchant for creating chances for others and it was good seeing him connect with his long time friend, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang with their collective performance against Watford showing the world that that bromance still exists. I’m quite happy we got a player like Mkhi for free bearing in mind that we wanted him a few seasons ago when he won the Bundesliga Player of the Year award scoring 25 goals and notching up 26 assists.

I wish Mkhi a speedy recovery and hope to see him on the pitch.

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Mesut Ozil on Fire as Arsenal Thrash CSKA Moscow

Image result for ramsey goal cska

With the change in the fortunes of the Gunners winning four games on the trot and keeping three clean sheets, it was important to get a positive result against a CSKA Moscow side that denied Olympique Lyonnais a chance of a dream final in their home stadium. History was made as the CSKA stalwarts, Igor Akinfeev, Vasili Berezutkiy and Alexei Berezutkiy played against the Gunners again, 12 years after clashing with them in the Champions League. Of course, the Berezutkiy twins, 35, are approaching the twilight of their careers but pairing them with Sergiy Ignasevich, 38, meant that the CSKA defense had a combined age of 108 years. I guess Gianluigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli have nothing on these guys.

An early goal was important to calm the nerves of the home side and it was duly delivered when Hector Bellerin’s drilled pass was dispatched with some aplomb by Aaron Ramsey. Despite his attacking prowess, Bellerin doesn’t rake up much positive numbers in attack so it was good seeing the young Spaniard get on the back pages for the right reasons this time, in the wake of all that has happened with him in this tumultuous campaign. Arsenal were pegged back with a piece of individual brilliance from Golovin but it must be pointed out that the equalizer from CSKA came on the end of some terrible defending with a shambolic clearance from Skhodran Mustafi and an idiotic foul from Laurent Koscielny. Petr Cech was helpless in goal as Golovin swung his free kick over the wall and into the net.

That goal gave the visitors some form of confidence but Arsenal regained the lead when Mesut Ozil was scythed down in the box but Smonnilkov to give the Gunners their third penalty in two games. For a team that hardly wins spot kicks, I must say I’m very happy about it. Up stepped Alexandre Lacazette to take a higher pressure penalty than the one he dispatched on Sunday but the result was the same – an Arsenal goal and you could see the relief in his celebrations.

Then came the best goal of the night and possibly a contender for the Europa League goal of the tournament. After some intricate passing play, Ozil lofted a sumptuous ball over the CSKA defense for Aaron Ramsey. The Welsh Jesus noticed Akinfeev off his line and had the audacity to dink the ball over the Russian goalie with the sexiest of touches you’d ever see. The goal was better with each passing replay. The Gunners weren’t done with their blitz as Lacazette latched onto another Ozil killer pass and smashed it past Akinfeev to make it four in just 35 minutes. The Emirates went into raptures on such show of amazing attacking display.

The Gunners kinda took their foot off the pedal in the second but they still had a host of chances to kill the contest off. Ozil’s creative juices were on full flow all night as he swung in a pass that left the CSKA defense for dead and found Henrikh Mkhitaryan but his finish was poor to say the least. The Armenian suffered a blow on the knee and when he signaled to the bench that he wants to be changed, I feared the worst. Alex Iwobi came on in his stead and the manager confirmed after the game that he’s out for Sunday’s clash with Southampton. Iwobi found Lacazette on the far post but the Frenchman’s attempted finish was way off the mark and even fell back to Iwobi embarrassingly.

In the end, it was a satisfying victory for the Gunners and they have a healthy advantage to take back to Moscow next week Thursday. Arsene Wenger’s side have one foot on the semis and it would take a capitulation in grand style for the Gunners to miss out on the semis.

The mood is really good at the Emirates and with relegation-threatened Southampton coming to town, we can only lick our lips in anticipation of another victory.

Feels good to return to writing about Arsenal. I hope I can remain consistent this time.

Sayonara

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Thoughts on Alexandre Lacazette’s Knee Injury

Alexandre Lacazette had been set to start Arsenal’s Europa League game at Östersund on Thursday.

Can you actually believe that we have just 11 games left in the Premier League this season? It’s amazing how time flies in this division, and I must say, it has been yet another frustrating campaign for Arsenal. The fans were used to finishing in the top four all these years and it became a bare minimum in terms of expectations but after finishing in fifth place last season, one must have thought that the Gunners would do enough to at least challenge for the title or something, but shamefully, the Gunners are a whopping 27 points behind Manchester City and eight points behind fourth placed Chelsea.

The potential for yet another campaign outside the top four is looming but the team’s cause isn’t helped with the recent update that top scorer (yes, with nine goals), Alexandre Lacazette will be out for four to six weeks due to an ongoing knee problem that required him to go under the knife. The club’s website released an official statement,

“The minor procedure was a success and he will now undergo a period of rehabilitation. It is envisaged that he will return to the squad within four to six weeks.”

With the likes of Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott shipped out to other Premier League clubs, Arsenal is left with their new record signing, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Danny Welbeck as the only senior center forwards in the team. The likes of Eddie Nketiah and Chuba Akpom are still waiting in the ranks to stake a claim for first team action but they are far from ready.

Lacazette’s time in the club has been bittersweet so far with the initial buzz surrounding his arrival and his debut goal after 94 seconds against Leicester City. He had such a good start to his Arsenal career and I strongly believe that the constant substitutions for Olivier Giroud didn’t help his cause. With Giroud suffering an injury layoff, Lacazette managed to play for 90 minutes but he failed to influence most of his games. I will still need to cut him some slack as he’s playing in a different league and that requires some adapting to do, but many expected better from the French forward.

I’m quite unhappy about the timing of Lacazette’s injury, as it has come at a time when he needed some goals to improve his confidence, falling his horror show at Wembley as well as Arsene Wenger’s comments about how Aubameyang’s arrival affected his confidence. With Lacazette injured, Arsenal will need Danny Welbeck to come up with the goods in the Europa League, while Aubameyang would lead the charge for the fourth place finish we remain hopeful for.

I wish Lacazette the very best and hope he recovers swiftly as we need his services for the remainder of what’s left of the season.

Sayonara.

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