We’ve been without players like Fabregas, Almunia, Gallas, Vermaelen, Arshavin, Ramsey, Rosicky etc so much this season that it seems normal that we play without them. Take out Song and Clichy as well, and it suddenly becomes apparent that what we see as Arsenal these days is nothing but Arsenal reserves with a few guest appearances from first teamers.
But now we know – after three seasons of trying, the reserve team can almost hold their own in the middle of the EPL, but not quite.
Just in case it is forgotten, the team included
One of our first choice back five (Sagna)
Two of our first choice middle three (Diaby, Nasri – although that doesn’t really reflect how unbalanced the middle three was because of the unavailability of players)
Two of our first choice forwards (Van Persie and Theo)
Yet despite that we were not too far off. With two or three new players promised next season and three or four coming through from the ranks, it looks as if we might finally have an answer to the eternal injury crisis.
Of course much depends on the view you take as to why the injuries are as they are. I’ve suggested before it could be
- Just random
- That the players are younger than the average age even five years ago
- That the endless fouling tactics are now much worse than five years ago
- That the speed of the game makes the injuries worse
- That the media endlessly encourage kicking teams like Blackburn to kick us even more.
Who knows – but the fact is that continuing faith in the fandomness theory would be a gamble, and so a move to counteract the problem by increasing the squad even further is the only way forward.
This is made even more difficult by the new 25 rule, and is something that will be beyond many teams, and the fact that we are almost there is extraordinary.
I’m not sure we’ll have enough even with the extra six players for next season to hold our own against some of the top clubs when we put our reserve team out, but we should be able to see our way through against most teams, and that is what we need.
It was sad to see the reserves lose, and sad to see the ladies lose the cup final too in extra time. Even worse for me, the local Northamptonshire team that I watch when there is nothing else doing on the football front (Rushden and Diamonds) got knocked out of the play offs for a league spot which they lost a few years back when the sponsor pulled out.
It was a sad day for the media too. The BBC in a fit of petulance at not getting the ladies cup final refused even to put the score on their teletext service, while today the Guardian on line doesn’t even mention what Luton fans got up to (unless I missed it.) The Independent covered the events including a wonderful quote from the Luton chairman that “One or two of our fans let us down.”
In case you didn’t see it something like 500 Luton fans ran onto the pitch after the game and attacked the York players with cans and bottles. The York players had to run to the back of the stands, and then run the gauntlet of missiles to get out, while the stewards proved themselves utterly inept at even moving the Luton supporters back up the pitch.
As for the rampaging Arsenal supporters who are calling for Wenger’s head because the reserves are having a bad run, just nominate which manager you would have brought in, (a manager who might well have taken the job), and then explain how he would have a) foreseen the injury situation, and b) overcome it, and c) kept the players he brought in happy in the earlier part of the season when there were fewer injuries. Such an approach of course means not selling any players, so if you have said we should have sold them, that would have left us with the youth team to put out yesterday, and you are disqualified. Actually it would have been interesting to put the youth team out instead of the reserves, but I doubt we would have won.
On the other hand it was good to see Djourou and Gibbs on the bench.
Back to the future and enter the world of fulfillment and ultimate peace
Go back 100 years, miss a turn and do not pass go