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Looking for alternatives

Injuries once again hog the headlines with regards to Arsenal Football Club. I know it happens to every single club and not only to ours. The feeling for us though is the only one I care about. Every single season since the last major trophy that we won, our squad has been besieged with injuries, not just those minor ones but also long term ones.

Jack Wilshere is the most prominent one currently out. He had his ankle surgery yesterday and by the looks of it, a very successful one. That said, the recovery will take up to five months. That being the maximum time being considered. March will look the likeliest that we will see him back in full swing once again.

It’s a big blow not only to the club but also to the player himself. In Arsenal’s case, it is not rare that a prolong absence of such a young player can has such a profound effect on the team. He was arguably our best player last season and was expected to further cement his place in the squad this season. Alas, we have to be more patient with Wilshere.

Cautious being the most important word here. Yes, by the time he comes back (if the time line is correct), he will still be able to play in some very important games for us. Of course, that is based on the assumption that we are either still in the running to win any trophy or still fighting for that European spot.

In many ways, this absence benefits England national team. They are whisker away from securing a spot in the European Championship Finals and if fit, will surely call Wilshere up to that competition. He would probably be the freshest of those who will travel to Ukraine/Poland and unless someone else breaks through within this 6 months period, much will be depended on Wilshere. My only hope is that whoever is in charge (Arsenal or England) will take extra care of his situation and ensure that he will not suffer from being forced back into action too early and too much.

Another one the England hopeful is also out for us at the moment. Speedster, winger with the ambition of becoming a striker and recently a writer, Theo Walcott has been ruled out of the Champions League tie against Olympiakos tomorrow. Whether or not, he makes it back for the North London Derby on Sunday, remains to be seen.

I don’t think we have seen the best of Walcott yet, this season. For a period last season, there was at least some form of consistency from the pacy winger. It goes without saying that the drop in form also coincided with an injury he picked up midway through that run. Now that he looks to be playing nearer to his level best, we will be missing his services.

I think the number shown here is interesting. Yes, it focussed on Robin Van Persie’s big achievement of hitting the 100 mark in terms of goals scored for Arsenal. But more specifically, I’m talking about the number detailing the provider for RvP’s goals. If anyone were to asked me to guess the highest number of assist to RvP, without a doubt in mind that I will immediately say Cesc Fabregas. How I would be wrong.

Walcott takes that honour. While you can argue that, in style or how aesthetically beautiful the goal is created would still be won by Fabregas, it is hard to argue with numbers. What the numbers say is that, there is a good working partnership between Walcott and RvP.

That is something which is very good for the team. All over the pitch, there will be partnerships that flourish better when both players are in the side together. From past success, what springs to mind is the wonderful combination of Patrick Vieira – Ian Wright, Robert Pires – Thierry Henry and Marc Overmars – Dennis Bergkamp.

Speaking of our latest centurion, it is no secret that he will be in his last year in contract with Arsenal, come next June. This became a story because Arsenal released a story about how we are starting negotiations with RvP and the admission from Arsene Wenger that they might be fighting a losing battle. It doesn’t help when RvP was quoted as saying he’s happy to bid his time with these negotiations.

Which is perfectly acceptable. A player of his ilk and quality wants to take his time to think about his future, how can that be a story. We are not exactly firing on all cylinders this season. Perhaps he wants to refrain from making any judgement until he sees what the this team can become/offer. That said, I will be lying if I say I’m not the least bit worried.

He’s the best player in our team at the moment and it would be crazy for a team like us to keep losing all our best players with each passing season. The team will have to raise their game and hope that the outcome of this season will reaffirm the desire of RvP to sign an extension of the contract.

As I write this, Wenger is doing his press conference for the Olympiakos game and there’s more bad news. Laurent Koscielny and Gervinho are both ruled out of this game. More on that in tomorrow’s preview. Let’s hope between now and then, no other player drops out.