By Tony Attwood
One thing is absolutely certain; Arsenal will get injuries this season. And when they come along the people who really do nick a living in football – the journalists – will be there with their Arsenal Injury Crisis.
Indeed I am surprised they haven’t been at it today, given that Arsenal are second equal in the injury table as of today, using the physioroom.com stats. We are beating Southampton whom we play on saturday, 7-3.
|#||TEAM||TOTAL INJURIES||LATEST PLAYER INJURED|
|1||West Ham United||8||W Reid|
|2||Stoke City||7||M Diouf|
|5||Hull City||6||J Tymon|
|9||Manchester City||5||S Aguero|
|9||Crystal Palace||5||Y Cabaye|
The list isn’t quite as frightening as it might seem however – here are the players and their return dates…
|S Mustafi||Ankle Injury||September 11, 2016|
|A Ramsey||Hamstring Injury||September 10, 2016|
|A Iwobi||Thigh Muscle Strain||September 10, 2016|
|G Paulista||Ankle Injury||October 15, 2016|
|C Jenkinson||ACL Knee Injury||November 1 2016|
|P Mertesacker||Knee Injury||January 2, 2017|
|D Welbeck||Cartilage Knee Injury||February 4, 2017|
Again I have taken that from the regular source, and I am not sure why Mustafi has a return date of sunday, when the papers are by and large saying that, to quote the Standard, “Shkodran Mustafi remains in line to make his Arsenal debut against Southampton next Saturday after emerging unscathed from Germany’s friendly against Finland.”
The story is that he “went down in some pain after rolling his ankle in a challenge with Finnish forward Robin Lod early in the second half of Germany’s 2-0 win in Monchengladbach. Though he returned to action during the match he appeared to be in some discomfort.
“However it is understood that Mustafi’s injury was not one to cause excessive concern to either Germany or Arsenal, who remain confident that their new signing will be available when Southampton arrive at the Emirates next weekend.”
So maybe it is just a slip by the compilers of physioroom and it should be September 10 that is his return date.
What is interesting however is that although Ramsey and Iwobi are also noted as being available for saturday, there is no need now to “rush them back” since we have such an array of talent covering those positions.
Back with Mustafi, here’s his injury history
|16/17||Knock||Sep 1, 2016||Sep 1, 2016||0 days||–|
|15/16||Muscle Injury||Dec 21, 2015||Jan 7, 2016||17 days||3|
|15/16||Muscle Injury||Nov 23, 2015||Dec 7, 2015||14 days||?|
|14/15||Sprained ankle||Dec 8, 2014||Dec 11, 2014||3 days||–|
|13/14||Torn muscle bundle||Jun 30, 2014||Aug 25, 2014||56 days||2|
That is not bad across three seasons, and it add to the hope that he will be available, although if there is any doubt I suspect that with PSG coming up, he might well be given the extra couple of days to recover and so make his debut in Paris.
Laurent Koscielny is not injured but played in the France game away to Belarus on Tuesday as did Giroud. If Mustafi is held back – not least to get in some time practising playing with Giroud then obviously Holding will play at centre back again.
Which then in turn raises the questions about who the back ups are – or at least who the back ups are who are fit.
From the over 21 squad we have
|Player||Position||Date of birth|
|Kieran Gibbs||LB||26 Sep 1989|
|Emiliano Martinez||GK||2 Sep 1992|
|Matt Macey||GK||9 Sep 1994|
|Mathieu Debuchy||RB||28 Jul 1985|
|David Ospina||GK||31 Aug 1988|
|Yaya Sanogo||Forward||27 Jan 1993|
From the under 21 squad list (who don’t have to be listed in the 25) we have
The following U21 players are included in our First Team Squad
|Rob Holding||CB||12 Sep 1995|
|Chuba Akpom||Forward||9 Oct 1995|
|Jeff Reine-Adelaide||Forward||17 Jan 1998|
I’ve obviously left out long term injured players and players who make fairly regular appearances in the first team.
Which raises the question, which of these players really are ready to play for the club if needed. Gibbs, Ospina and Holding have all shown they can step up when needed. Akpom showed pre-season that he most certainly can score, and it is interesting that this year he is the player chosen by the manager NOT to go on loan – normally a sign that he can expect some bench warming followed by occasional ventures forth.
Jeff Reine Adelaide spent a lot of time on the bench last season, doing what others had done before him, but his breakthrough in the style of Iwobi didn’t come. But he certainly could step up this season.
That leaves us to consider Mathieu Debuchy who didn’t go on loan again, and wasn’t sold. It has been said he is carrying a knock, but he is not appearing on the injury list so I guess that is not the case. We need a back up right back – but the question is, will it be Debuchy or Jenkinson? (You will remember that through the summer the story was that Barcelona were clicking their fingers and that Bellerin would at once be off. Strangely, no one mentions these stories once they don’t happen.)
Yaya Sanogo’s presence in the 25 list surprised a lot of us, and it is said (again) that he is injured, but he is again not on the physioroom list. He certainly only appeared briefly in training sessions at the start of the pre-season period, which would have suggested that he would be frozen out. But maybe there is a way back.
As for Ospina, no newspaper will ever write about him without mentioning one mistake in the Champs League. But this is like the Guardian’s infamous “Arsenal only have two players who scored 10+ goals last season in the Premier League”. Without knowing comparative figures the tale is pointless.
In terms of the goalscoring, it turned out the real truth was that Arsenal were one of only five clubs that had two players scoring 10+ goals. I suspect that if we were able to put together a table of significant goal keeping errors we’d find Ospina right down the bottom of the league table for number of significant errors made.
Certainly he was superb in the summer Copa America. Cech is now 34 and although goalkeepers go on for ever if he does get a knock he’s liable to be out for longer than before, so having a quality keeper on the bench is going to be vital.
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