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The big news of the day is the confirmation of the length of time that Theo Walcott will have to stay on the sidelines. He suffered that ankle injury in the run-up to England’s opening goal in their Euro 2012 qualifying match against Switzerland. Although the earlier perception was that it will only he will only be out for a week or two, it has now been confirmed by Arsene Wenger that it will take up to 6 weeks for Walcott to completely recovered, having damaged his ankle ligaments.
This is a very big blow for Arsenal. Coupled with Robin Van Persie’s and Nicklas Bendtner’s injuries, it leaves just Marouane Chamakh and Andrey Arshavin as the only 2 experienced candidate to fulfil the striking role. We of course still have the possibility of putting Jay Emmanuel-Thomas there but he is still raw and have very few first team oppourtunities thus far. By hook or by crook, the Moroccan and the Russian will have to ensure that they do not add to the injury list and somehow hold the fort till the others recovers.
Together with RVP, Walcott has a knack of picking up injuries and have always stayed out for long periods during the season. It is reminiscent of the days of Freddie Ljungberg who averages 24 appearances a season for Arsenal. That compared to the likes of Robert Pires who has an average of 32 appearances, Patrick Viera with an average of 31 appearances and Thierry Henry with an average of 32 appearances. With about 50 odd club games a season, regardless of the formation and tactics as well as suspensions, anything lower than the 30 mark is very disappointing. Walcott only manages an average of 22 appearances in his 4 seasons at the club.
Another person’s misfortune can sometimes turn out to be another’s gain. Carlos Vela will be the one licking his lips at the prospect of more game time. Having had the international games moved to Tuesday on the weekday further allow the Mexican the chance to feature, provided he keeps himself away from injuries. He himself has only mustered a total of 25 games, whether as a starter or substitute since moving to Arsenal two seasons ago.
Vela has been something of a hit and miss for many Arsenal fans including myself. We were all excited by this young lad when he burst into the scenes 2 years ago by demolishing lower rank opponents in the Carling Cup. However, that form and performance have not been translated into a league or European game. Too often, against stronger teams, he has suffered. Wenger’s selection probably does not help his case but only choosing him to wear the red and white occasionally and never in continuous fashion.
However, the biggest boost Vela have going for him this season is the fact that Eduardo was sold off instead of him. Wenger made the decision to let the Croatian go and entrust his faith on the talented Vela. He may still be young but time waits for no man. Vela will have to show this season that he can upgrade himself from someone who is forever talented into someone who performs day in day out.
Miraculously, Samir Nasri seemed to have recovered from his own injury and may even play a part in Saturday’s game against Bolton. Just shows you how crazy and unpredictable injuries are these days. I’m just hoping that this little blip with regards to the players’ health is our first and only one for the season, no matter how optimistic that is.