Written by @Dangaeleastjohn
Win against Manchester United and Bayern, lose against Sheffield Wednesday and lose a couple of players to injury: Arsenal’s season has finally begun.
It was always going to happen, wasn’t it? Just when things are going smoothly, we crash. I’m not referring to the loss against Sheffield Wednesday (nor the manner of the loss which, frankly, was appalling). Losing to lower league opposition while fielding a team of youngsters was not the worst thing to happen to Arsenal this week.
20 minutes into the game and Arsene Wenger was forced into making two first team player substitutions. While the Ox’s substitution may have been merely a precaution, I think it is safe to say that both him and Walcott will not feature in next weekend’s game in Wales.
So what implications will these injuries have on the the Arsenal squad?
To begin with, Arsenal’s squad is heavily decimated, with players like Ramsey, Walcott, Wilshere, Oxlade Chamberlain, Welbeck, Rosicky, Ospina and Arteta all injured (is it a coincidence that half of them are English?). This means that Arsenal’s bench is not going to boast of any first team attacking players for the next two weeks or so.
Also, with Ramsey, Walcott and Chamberlain’s injuries, we may finally see Joel Campbell have a run of games in the side. Last night he was one of the (dare I use the word) ‘best’ players on the field. His work rate impressed me. These injuries may see him integrated into the starting XI on the right flank.
But then again, we may also see Flamini put alongside Coquelin with Ozil or Cazorla shifted onto the right flank instead. Cazorla and Ozil are in the form of their lives at the moment, and I think it would be unwise to change their current positions. Add to the fact that I do not think that Flamini merits a berth in the starting XI, especially if his latest performance is anything to go by.
Perhaps the more worrying thing to emerge from the game is that fact that Giroud will definitely be Arsenal’s main striker. Don’t get me wrong, when Giroud hits form he can be very very good. But without Walcott (or any other striker) breathing down his neck, Giroud is now the only recognised striker in Arsenal’s current squad.
This means that there is no competition for a place. It means that if Giroud has been rubbish for 75 minutes he will not be replaced, because there is no one to replace him. And this can evoke complacency. Thierry Henry recently said that he only had 60 minutes to perform in a match, because if he did not then Kanu, Bergkamp or Wiltord were waiting on the bench to replace him.
A final thing of note is that, were something to happen to Bellerin or Monreal, there is no adequate backup. Both Debuchy and Gibbs have seriously declined since falling out of the first XI.
Here’s to hoping that Arsenal do not fall into another injury crisis.