By Tony Attwood
As we all know Laurent Koscielny could have played against Bayern but was left on the bench. It is a fairly obvious conclusion given that if he was on the bench he could have played. That’s that, nice and simple, although it didn’t stop the inevitable “Koscielny could have played against Bayern” headline or four, a day or two later as if it were a revelation.
But if Koscielny doesn’t play against Tottenham either, then he can be legitimately said to be injured and so not go and play against Germany and England in the interlull.
Of course none of us really knows what is wrong with him, and it may be that there is a chance that he really is injured quite seriously or has had a relapse in which case he won’t play anyway. But if fit, it is an interesting dilemma.
We do have a new centre half in waiting, and a replacement on the pitch, who could be used if we put Gabriel and Mert in the team: Chambers and Monreal could both be seen as the reserve player – if Monreal moved then Gibbs would play at full back.
Overall we have eight players injured:
Koscielny, Bellerin, Walcott, the Ox, Ramsey, Wilshere, Rosicky, Welbeck.
which tells us that Arteta and Ospina are back and might well be on the beach for the Tiny Totts visit.
So the league table of injuries looks like this
|#||TEAM||TOTAL INJURIES||Lge position|
|13||West Ham United||4||6|
|19||West Bromwich Albion||2||12|
So, as with all these links that are assumed (the link between league position and money spent this summer, money spent in the last five year, injuries), there is no link in real life.
Premier Injuries shows that Arsenal’s total number of injuries has been above the Premier League average in 11 out of the last 12 seasons. But “above average” doesn’t mean too much. Just top 50% obviously. Indeed we might expect it, given that we play a fast moving type of football that “invites” clogging defenders who lack to skill to take the ball from them to bring players down, and we know from our referee stats that referees have for the last five years been reluctant to penalise players of other teams for this type of foul against Arsenal.
But the “expected back” make more pleasant reading now…
- Ramsey: 21 Nov
- Bellerin: 21 Nov
- The Ox: 21 Nov
- Theo: 29 Nov
- Jack: 13 Dec
- Rosicky: 2 Jan
- Welbeck: 12 Jan
Some of the media has moved on to “a shortage of reserves” and yes it is true Arsenal only used 22 of the 25 slots available this year for players, but partly that is because we use several under 21s who don’t need to be listed.
But still, why didn’t we fill in the 25?
Because you can’t buy players of the highest quality and then say, “you might not get a game this year”. It is that simple.
There is a further bonus in this situation. Interlulls are the all-time injury horror story, and can cripple teams. Remember Wenger’s jibe: it is like giving your perfect car to a second hand car dealer who drives it all over the place, brings it back broken and then tells you to fix it so he can do it again next time.
Best of all let’s not have injuries, but if we must, let’s have them so that some of the recovery time is in the interlull. No matches that week, and no chance of an interlull injury.
The press of course always have lots of rent-a-quote ex-players on their books who like to be back in the spotlight. The routine goes like this:
Journalist: “Hello Emmanuel. I see you are getting a bit of TV work in England.”
Mr Petit: “Yes, not as much as I like, but I have some in France as well, so its not too bad.”
“And you do a bit for the Homeless World Cup.”
“That feels a good thing to do, and I’m pleased to be doing it.”
“But you really want some more TV work?”
“Yes, do you have something in mind?”
“I can’t do it Emmanuel, but if you can give me a usable quote it will keep your name in people’s minds. Something a little controversial and you know how it goes – the TV boys will see it, and get you on knowing you will say something to get the viewers jumping.”
“I don’t know…”
“Well, what do you say about Arsenal’s injury crisis?”
“Oh its not that bad, just a load of hype. Not a crisis.”
“Now that’s not going to get you on TV is it Manu? Try again. A bit more controversial…”
“OK. How about, ‘To be honest, I’m getting very annoyed. Injuries cost them many things every year’.”
“Perfect. See you.”
“But hang on what about…”
The line is dead.
Of course I made that up, but from my years in writing, I can tell you it is what happens, from the journalist point of view.
We have had interlull managers trying to fight back of course, but normally they make such a balls up of it that it becomes laughable. Remember when the Welsh second hand car dealer Chris Coleman had a go at Arsenal, after he played Ramsey in a useless, pathetic and pointless game against the might of Andorra and Mr Wenger dared to question him. “If Wenger has a problem with me or my selection, I’ll gladly drive to Arsenal’s training ground,” he said. “Our job is hard enough as managers without us having a chip at each other, especially a cheap shot which is exactly what it was.”
A second hand car dealer if ever I saw one. All the press ran it, and of course sided with Coleman.
But back to our injuries.
Tomas Rosicky has had a boost in that he has been cleared to resume running work next week.
So are we down to the bare bones? Here’s the squad with the injured players having a *
- David Ospina
- Petr Cech
- Mathieu Debuchy
- Kieran Gibbs
- Per Mertesacker
- Laurent Koscielny ?
- Nacho Monreal
- Calum Chambers
- Hector Bellerin *
- Tomas Rosicky *
- Mikel Arteta
- Jack Wilshere *
- Mesut Ozil
- Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain *
- Aaron Ramsey *
- Santi Cazorla
- Mathieu Flamini
- Francis Coquelin
- Olivier Giroud
- Theo Walcott *
- Danny Welbeck *
- Joel Campbell
On loan but able to be recalled
- Wojciech Szczesny
- Carl Jenkins
- Yaya Sanogo
- Serge Gnabry
- Ainsley Maitland-Niles
- Isaac Hayden
- Chuba Akpom
- Emiliano Martinez
- Jon Toral
- Wellington Silva
- Gedion Zelalem
And I haven’t included the players who we know about like Alex Iwobi, Chris Willock, Jeff Adelaide etc who are still listed by Arsenal.com as being Academy players.
Of course the number of these players who return from loan or step up when needed is small, but we can still remember Bellerin and Coquelin in the depths of our “crisis” last year.
7 November 1896: Notts C 7 Arsenal 4. Only 3000 witnessed Arsenals biggest league aggregate game thus far. In fact this game was part of an amazing 11 league game sequence in which 76 goals were scored – fractionally under 7 per game. The run included the 0-8 defeat to Loughboro and two games in which Arsenal scored six.
7 November 1925: Final first team game for John (Jock) Robson against Man City – the shortest ever Arsenal keeper at 5 feet 8 inches. He played 101 times for Arsenal, including 9 games in Chapman’s first season in 1925/6.
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