When it rains, it pours. Especially when it is related to the Arsenal injury news. If you haven’t already heard, Andre Santos will need to undergo a surgery to repair his damaged ligament in his right ankle. That will take him out of action right until middle of March. The decision to play the single first team full back available to the team in the meaningless Olympiakos game has failed spectacularly.
Judgement on hindsight is a wonderful thing and yes, Santos could as easily pulled something or sustained a different injury against Everton. But such is the difference in the importance of the game (comparing Olympiakos and Everton), that an injury in the latter game would be considered as bad luck but the former is unfortunately classed under bad management.
One look at the injury table in Arsenal’s official website;
i) Bacary Sagna (ankle) 3 months from 24th November 2011
ii) Kieran Gibbs (stomach) 4 weeks from 25th November 2011
iii) Carl Jenkinson (back) 3 weeks from 25th November 2011
I’m in no place to doubt the work that’s done by the medical staff at Arsenal but their track record hasn’t been anywhere near perfect. If the above estimation is correct, we would at least have a right back and a left back for this Saturday’s game at Etihad Stadium. I guess we will know more as the week goes on and Arsene Wenger has done his press conference.
The absence of Santos is one that is very disappointing. He was a late signing in August and was roundly criticised after his début at at Blackburn. Out of shape and looked like he has no comprehension of the defensive side of the game. However, credit to the Brazilian that he took it all under his chin. It’s a two fold improvement on his part as his stamina increased and the defending became much better.
Of late, Santos has even added to the attacking side of Arsenal’s game. Providing the assured and composed touch on the left, he was dove-tailing nicely with Gervinho and it looked to be a working partnership. The injury is cruel on him and while Thomas Vermaelen is a monster of a player and could play in the left back position, not much is expected of him in the attacking sense.
When you add that to the presence of another centre back in the right back slot, we are restricting the attacking impetus from full back positions. Admittedly, being played out of position means that you’re more cautious of what you do and you don’t just start bombing forward at every opportunity (except if your name is Phil Jones). While the defending will be more resolute, extra burden is heaped on the shoulders of the midfielders and attackers.
Unless the team/management is certain that those out injured are nearing the end of their absence and are certain that these players have bodies strong enough to negate them from contracting niggling injuries here and there, to simply put, we have to spend in the January transfer window. The other option would be to put our trust on Ignasi Miquel to do a job during their recovery period and hope he doesn’t get injured as well.
There’s still 4 more games to go before the start of the transfer window. If you asked me now who is a possible signing, I can’t even pick a single name. There’s Philip Lahm but I doubt Bayern Munich will sell their captain. When I asked this on twitter, some of the names mentioned includes Jan Vertonghen, Taye Taiwo, Timmy Chandler, Silva brothers (United) and Paolo Maldini. If we can go back in time and sign a young Paolo in his teens and bring his to the future, that would be the option I’d go for.
On the other side of the coin, we could soldier on for these 4 matches against Manchester City, Aston Villa, Wolverhampton and QPR by playing 4 centre backs and still come out fine. But this cannot be a long term solution and either the injured ones get back of Wenger will have to find his half used cheque book again.
Given the situation at hand, it also eases the conundrum that Wenger might have before. Thinking/choosing who to be his preferred centre back pairing was tough and now everyone gets to play. Further to it, the one who is fourth choice will also get further run of games. Johan Djourou might not be too pleased about playing on the side but at least he’ll get minutes under his belt.
Moving on to other things, there’s finally a “1” under the column “L” of the league table for City. Chelsea broke their unbeaten run with a 2-1 victory yesterday and now we can all heave a huge relief. Of course I would prefer us to the be one defeating them for the first time this season in the league but I would take anything that doesn’t take the Invincibles title away from us.
Ahead of our clash with them this weekend, the first defeat could also be helpful to us. That and because Gael Clichy decided not to play us and leave Roberto Mancini no choice but to use Pablo Zabaleta against us. With Theo Walcott in very good form, this right side could be the key if we are to repeat the win in the corresponding fixture last season. It’s like a whole story just on left back isn’t it.
There can only be one undefeated team in history of the Premier League.