Normally that would mean that the team is flying. Not necessarily in a physical form but in terms of form, confidence and results. A good continuous run of positive results would probably equate to a team in flying condition. In this instance, I’m referring “full flight” to the numbers and quantity. The flight to Germany will not be short on numbers.
As it stands we have a very healthy squad to fly out from London. Thomas Vermaelen, Jack Wilshere, Abou Diaby, Ryo Miyaichi and Sebastien Squillaci will not be accorded flight tickets as they are out with varying injuries. In recent seasons, having 5 players out would constitute some sort of an injury crisis. However, the same tune cannot be sung this season (at this point at least).
There will be at least one back-up for each position that could ultimately get the chance to play at Signal Iduna Park. The list goes as Wojciech Szczesny (Lukasz Fabianski), Bacary Sagna (Carl Jenkinson), Per Mertesacker (Ignasi Miquel), Kieran Gibbs (Andre Santos), Aaron Ramsey (Tomas Rosicky), Alex Song (Emmanuel Frimpong), Mikel Arteta (Yossi Benayoun), Gervinho (Theo Walcott), Robin Van Persie (Marouane Chamakh) and Andrey Arshavin (Park Chu Young). Francis Coquelin and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain can also be thrown into the mix.
That itself is a very healthy squad. A squad with competition for places in every position. Players who are committed to improve themselves to maintain their place in the starting line-up and players who are committed to improve themselves to snatch a role in the starting line-up. There are also those who can play in multiple positions which can be the third choice behind the backup. I cannot remember the last time we have the luxury of options.
Now, what was mentioned above was purely in the number essence. I’m not saying it’s like for like replacement nor am I saying that the current first choice are world beaters and that by having them, we would sweep all before us. It just shows that we have the bodies necessary to cope with the demands of numerous competitions.
That said, if we lose a Van Persie or a Vermaelen, the impact of the squad is higher than compared to if we lose a Frimpong or a Walcott. Losing the likes of the former duo will be akin to losing our stalwarts, stars that carries the team. Players with that little bit extra in quality and the touch of leadership.
Of course they are not the only ones in the squad with higher qualities. In some ways we can also look at the likes of Mertesacker, Arteta, Song and Wilshere for that little bit of guidance around the pitch. The responsibility does not fall solely on the captain or the vice captain.
The incident with Chamakh during the Swansea game was comical at best. Frantically searching and asking the bench on who he should hand the captain’s armband to. There was only 10 odd minutes left of the playing time, the point at which it doesn’t really matter who wears it. Players must be unafraid to take leads even if they are not the designated captain for the day or the season.
Just my luck that as I’m writing this, news came through of the squad flying off to Germany. Rosicky and Ramsey are missing from that 18 man list. Worrying for the former as he has played far less games compared to Ramsey and with past experience, we have to tread cautiously with the Czech captain. As for the Wales captain, his absence might actually do him some good. Allow him some off time to recover from recent continuous exertions with club and country.
We won for the first time in the league this season. We weren’t a relegation side before the win and neither are we a championship winning side after the win. I’m dead certain that the former would not happen but with lots of luck and hard work, we can still make the latter materialise. Having options on the bench will go a long way to helping that.
Match preview tomorrow. Enjoy what’s left of your Monday.