If we qualify for Champs League, who on earth will we have available?

By Tony Attwood

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott.  Three major players missing from our squad at the moment – and judging by the results at the moment by and large we can live with that.

What we can’t do is live with that list of absentees plus Ozil and Ramsey.  Five major players out is too much.

Which if you put it that way means, we are living on the limit, and in my view that’s not good.  Especially when we come to a situation like the start of next season, by which time a lot of players won’t actually be available because of  the world cup.

But before we get to that… here is the injury list.

Alex has an inflammation of his groin and is not training, having been given a complete break for two weeks to try and get his fitness back.

Jack broke a navicular bone in his left foot playing for England two months back, and there is still no sign of him back on the pitch, and no date set for his return, although progress is said to be good.

The latest from Theo is that he won’t be ready to start the new season, but hopes to be back with us in the early part of the season.  Given that we would not have had him back for the early part of the season anyway since he would have been playing for England in the heat of Brazil, that doesn’t make too much difference.

But now that raises another matter.  Assuming for the moment we finish fourth in the league and so have to play those early Champs League qualifiers, we are most likely only going to be to call on players who have either not been in the World Cup at all, or at a pinch, have played for countries that got knocked out after the group stages.

The semi final of the world cup is on 8/9 July.   Let’s assume that some of our players are in teams that are knocked out then.    They get home around 11 July and have a month’s holiday to 11 August.

Then they start training and  need three weeks to get back up to speed – maybe 3 September, but in a state where they can’t play a full game.

Unfortunately the fourth round qualifying matches are on 20th and 27th August.

So we will have (I think – and I’m sure you’ll correct my errors – but don’t bother to make points about Abou Diaby’s fitness, it has all been said before)…

  • Wojciech Szczesny
  • Aaron Ramsey
  • Kieran Gibbs (assuming he is not selected  to go)
  • Tomáš Rosický
  • Abou Diaby
  • Mathieu Flamini
  • Mikel Arteta
  • Yaya Sanogo
  • Carl Jenkinson
  • Thomas Eisfeld
  • Serge Gnabry
  • Isaac Hayden
  • Gedion Zelalem

Now I am not sure that is much of a squad – and that assumes no one gets injured or taken sick.  What we need are some central defenders

I make it we might play…

Wojciech Szczesny

Jenkinson  Hayden Siemann Gibbs

Arteta Flamini

Rosický  Ramsey  Gnabry


With a bench made up of Abou Diaby, Thomas Eisfeld, Zelalem, Akpom

Of course to help in defence we could bring back Coquelin unless the decision has already been taken.

All we can do is hope that teams with our players in get knocked out early.


The books

34 Replies to “If we qualify for Champs League, who on earth will we have available?”

  1. Good point Tony. Arsene always gives tournament players an extra two weeks off before they start pre season training. That team you suggest looks a bit scary in defence. So it’s good that Theo won’t go to the WC & as Blacksheep63 says, Jack should be home early. Possibly Campbell also before we loan him out again.

  2. It would be better for Wilshere not to go ,especially he were to ‘suffer’ a ‘setback’ in his rehabilitation . The rest will do him good and also avoid the embarrassment of England’s defeat in all their first round game .

  3. we are going to need to strengthen this summer, for all the aforementioned reasons, and as it looks as if we will be losing an experienced player or two ….not to mention for the sake of improving the squad. dont want to get into transfer gossip and issues, but getting in any targets early if at all possible will be hugely beneficial…at the same time and to totally contradict myself, would be good to see the odd youngster pushing through…maybe the likes of Bellerin…seems to have worked for Liverpool and Everton this season.
    We have to be…and will be ready for the CL qualifier, and there will be some tasty teams in the mix there.
    Have a feeling some of our players are in for a long, arduous and reasonably successful WC, especially the German contingent. BFG has played a lot of games this season, we will need cover for him, especially if TV does happen to leave, not sure there is anyone coming through at the moment who can step in at that level

  4. A thoughtful article and a worrying situation for August. The additional problem could be that any major player we sign may also be in need of an extended break. This is not an easy one!

  5. Will miss those in the Spanish, German and England squad

    Well, some of them might not be called…

  6. @Tony

    I hadn’t read this article when I made a comment on another thread but it is relevant to this topic so I copy below

    do think that having to hit the ground running in August 2013 and with the two CL qualifiers make it very difficult and I wouldn’t dismiss the impact of this with regard to how you approached the Villa game in Aug 2013

    The trouble is next season should you win the FA cup and don’t get third place then I think your manager will face a fixture nightmare in August.

    Why you may ask .
    Well the World Cup finals are played in mid July. All players will be given at least two weeks off. Whilst I doubt the English players will be involved at that late date I would expect the Germans & Spanish to be there or there abouts.

    What will make it difficult for Arsenal is that winning the FA cup will require then to play in the Charity Shield on 10 August, two CL qualifiers between 19 August & 27 August , EPL fixtures on 16, 23 & 30 August .So in a period of around 20 days you will have to play 6 competitive games and that will be with a squad at various stages of fitness.

  7. Maybe, if we did win the Cup – we should let Hull into the Charity Shield!
    Ok – being silly, but next season will be about the squad from the start, we will need a squad of players the manager trusts, wherever they may come from. this season, we have a few he has at times been reluctant to use…ok NB, does not take much imagination to realise what could be going on there….but then the strange case of Gnabry….
    And, who knows what delights the fixture list will throw our way in Aug Sept. Also, the meaningless friendlies….which may see Santi and Nacho flying off to play American Samoa early season…or such the like. That is without mentioning pre season tours, great that the amazing inspirational fans in places like Vietnam or Indonesia get to see the team close up, but I bet Wenger longs for the quiet of the Austrian pre season training camp
    God, I hate international football, but that aside, the club really have their work cut out this summer. Much debate recently on injuries and their causes, but whatever the truths of the matter, we need to be doing everything humanly possibly to reduce these injuries, whether it be improving squad strength, adjusting training methods, sacking the medics, fitness staff and tea lady, banning the use of certain hair products, the use of witch doctors or feng shui practicioners, or Ivan protesting in the strongest terms to the powers that be…. where he sits these days… about some of the treatment dished out to us.

  8. How about a mix of youth and senior players for the Charity Shield, that will surely help? Media might say Wenger doesn’t take Charity Shield seriously though…but really do we care.

    I’m not bothered to be honest. I’m going to enjoy the season, enjoy the world cup, and look forward to next season. Will be happy to watch Arsenal play and interested to see how the team continues to evolve.

  9. We shouldn’t have any problems getting a team together. It will be different to any we have seen this season that’s for sure. The World cup will not impact us too much. If we are to buy players, there’s a good chance we will have already done some of the business before the World cup. I have no doubt that Wenger is smarting from missing out on the title and will not allow his squad to squander another chance.

  10. Mandy
    Are we even allowed to do that/ I first saw Cesc in the Charity Shield & everyone in the pub was saying “who’s Cesc Fabregas?” We soon found out didn’t we.
    I always look forward to the word cup, but not so much this time due to our most likely poor show and a possible Brazilian cock up which ruins the whole tournament.

  11. Arsenal FC will be well aware of the dilemma facing them early next season.

    I foresee some early decisions regarding player transfers, comings and goings.

  12. Doubt it Jax, but there is always a first! Agree with the point that realistically….should we be involved in the CS, a great time to showcase a few youngsters, along with the Emirates Cup. Dont want to get too complacent with the cup though, we are strong favourites…and should win, but not always easy to play an underdog in a high pressure final. still rather Hull than City or Chelsea. As for the WC, will pay it very little interest, will not go as far as believing it is fixed, but can see a couple of South American giants and perhaps a plucky African or Asian team being given as smooth a passage as they possibly can get to the latter stages

  13. I don’t think Cazorla and Monreal will be playing much in the later stages of the World Cup. Podolski will probably be a fringe player for Germany. I don’t think France will get too far, so Kos and Giroud may be ok. So we might see

    CF: Sanogo, Giroud
    AM: Podolski, Rosicky, Cazorla, Wilshere, Gnabry, Chambo
    DM: Flamini, Arteta, Ramsey
    LB: Gibbs, Monreal
    CB: Koscielny, Jenkinson, Hayden
    RB: Jenkinson, Bellerin

    That looks like enough to get through the Champions League Qualifiers.

  14. Quincy’s right. Since none of our players were in the team of the season despite being on top of EPL the most weeks and media savvy national coaches dont really fancy our players, I think most of the players will return unscathed. I hope. The World Cup though provide a good holiday for the players in Rio and at least they will be mentally relaxed. By the way, I truly believe Arsene’s 18 years at Arsenal made him well prepared for any predicaments. This summer’s World Cup will be his fifth as Arsenal manager. Unbelievable.

  15. Meh.

    I’m not bothered much by this. The management should sort things out and I trust them to. As always, I’ll just relax and enjoy the rest of the season. At the world cup, I hope either my favourite team or the one that plays the best football wins but I intend to thoroughly enjoy the competition.

    The challenges that Tony highlighted here are not going to be peculiar to Arsenal but to many of the top teams and Arsene Wenger is an expert at navigating the qualification stage of the CL.

    Frankly, and despite all the issues raised in this article, I am not worried at all.

  16. Interesting Quincy, must admit though they will not win it, have France down as dark horses, they have some seriously good players,Kos, Bac Ribery, Benzema Loris and dare I mention Giroud..and Nasri for starters… just a matter of keeping squad unity, and having a better relationship between the manager and squad…a bit like Holland

  17. Who takes the Charity Shield seriously? As for playing the qualifiers, most of our players will have had a lot of rest because as was mentioned they are not starters for their national sides even if their team advances deep into the tournament. Mertesacker, Koscielny and Ozil are probably the only ones we have to worry about.

  18. Let’s remember that ManC, assuming they win the league, will have the same problem. Most or maybe all if their players will be returning from WC too.
    I guess we should expect a slow start for bigger teams at the start of the next season.

  19. France has the individual stars, but they don’t seem to play well as a team. Except when they have an ageing Zidane to single-handedly drag them to a final, then single-handedly lose the final 😀 I honestly can’t see them getting past the quarter-finals, sadly.

    We shall see. The favourites are Spain, Germany, Brazil, and Argentina(?). My dark horses are Uruguay and Belgium, but of course other teams will be in the mix.

  20. Oh Quincy, finally someone else who reckons Uruguay have an outside shot. Hehe, history may yet repeat itself…

    Personally, I am hoping Germany or Argentina wins it with good, attacking football. Brazil are too functional. They need another lesson to go back to their roots – for explanation, refer to Brazilian football coaches, I am not qualified to explain. Or maybe compare 1970, 1982 and 1994 – or 2002 with today 2014 vintage.

  21. I can’t see why Uruguay wouldn’t be dark horses at the very least. They are fifth in the FIFA rankings (which are quite suspect, I find, nonetheless…). They have a bit of an advantage against European teams because the World Cup is in South America, and their group has England and Italy, a tough one. And they have some stars, Muslera the GK, Caceres the Juventus CB, Diego Godin is an important player for Atletico Madrid, Cavani, and of course Suarez. Love him or hate him, he’s one of the top strikers in the world at the moment.

    I would also like it if Germany, Argentina or another attacking team wins. I hated the style Spain played in the last World Cup, and I was desperately hoping the Netherlands would win.

    Brazil has improved in recent times, and they have many good players, but none with that something special in attack, except maybe Neymar. A midfield of Fernandinho, Ramires, Oscar, Willian, Gustavo, Paulinho, Hulk won’t exactly strike fear into the heart of a well organised defence.

    Argentina has Messi, Higuain, Aguero, Lavezzi, and di Maria in attack! Not to mention a solid defence.

  22. Well, this is why 4th is just not good enough anymore, we have to aim higher from next season. 4th place gives us added games that affect our players fitness and stamina.
    But i am sure that Arsenal will be active from now in the summer transfer window, AW knows, and we all know this is a must.
    World cup turns me off.

  23. I am SURE Wenger has discussed this with his staff and players and will be active in the summer transfer window. I expect to see 2-3 new names added before the end of August and we also have Campbell, who is a proven striker, as well as Giroud, Sanogo and Podolski,in a pinch and Walcott available and rested. Our midfield is very strong, even without Ozil (the Ox and Wilshere might be back early) and with Ramsey/Flamini and Arteta available, as well as some of the youngsters….I’m not overly worried.
    Lets face it, August will be a time to try out some of the kids and gradually integrate the new signings so my guess is that LeProf is already planning for the summer and fall. We may very well hit the ground running, like we did last season and maybe lead the league a little longer than we did this year…..barring injuries.

  24. During the Wenger era we have been far more likely to win trophies in years leading up to major championships than in the years following. Historically this was probably because we had more playes participating than other teams, being one of the first to “internationalise”, but would expect this to be less of an issue now.

    I am concerned (as I am every year we finish 4th) that the CL qualifier is not a slam dunk. Just because we always have negotiated it doesn’t mean we always will. And just after a World Cup is a prime risk.

  25. Indeed Pete these games can throw up some very tough fixtures. Look at the udinese game…..and what happened to us just afterwards as an example

  26. @ Mandy

    I am not sure if its starts from next season or was in place prior but the CL qualifying round where the 4th place EPL team will enter is made up of two sections one made up of 10 champions and one made up of 10 non champions.
    In the group that the 4th place English team some teams have already qualified, Porto, Athletic Bilbao others look like qualifying are Bayer Leverkusen& Napoli.

  27. Sorry but who’s fault is it for finishing fourth? Come on boys and girls wake up. Listening to wenger press conference is very worrying about the summers transfers. Does he honestly think verm will stay on the bench for another season

  28. Of course, every fixture has its perils. We’ve beaten Hull home and away this season but as our 2011 experience taught us, when we beat Birmingham home and away in the league only to lose to them in League cup final at Wembley, we must be wary of our final opponents. The grace that we have in the CL qualification ties is that they are over 2 legs. That is where I get my confidence from. The very few teams that can dump Arsenal out over 2 legs are seldom, if ever, part of the qualification series and on the few occasions when they do, seeding rules keep us apart.

    Udinese and Fenerbahce were our last 2 (and) toughest opponents and we beat them both home and away. I am not worried about our qualification. Bar some sort of calamity, I just can’t see us losing over 2 legs to any of the teams that we are likely to encounter.

  29. nice little list of clubs there Mike T,I am sure enough to focus the minds on the powers that be within the club. Napoli would be a nightmare, tho they too will have their share of WC players

  30. Top four it is, congratulations to the team, remarkable consistency in difficult times. A game or two in the sun then onwards to hopefully get the monkey off the back.
    But hope this article serves as a warning to the powers at the club…..come August, be prepared, be very prepared….

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