By Tony Attwood
And so what do we know? Now in our fourth year of the never-ending injuries we are trying and trying to beat Chelsea with six or more key players missing, and once again we have failed. The manager can’t rotate properly and can’t pick the best players for each occasion simply because so many top men are not in the side.
For me, there’s no doubt that if we had had this level of injury in the early years of the Wengerian revolution we would not have been able to achieve everything we did achieve. Likewise if we didn’t have the crisis we have now, we would have won against WBA and at least got a draw against Chelsea.
In fact even with the injuries we weren’t that far off, and were certainly a lot closer than last year. And I would also say, despite two defeats in the league this early we’re still not done for.
But let’s look forward a little.
Let’s imagine (and I know this is a flight of fancy but let’s do it anyway) that the internationals in the coming days don’t generate any more injuries.
And let’s imagine also that the team who are injured start to come back by their proposed return dates:
- Bendtner 16 October
- Vermaelen 16 October
- Fabregas 16 October
- Almunia 16 October
- Walcott 23 October
- Van Persie 23 October
- Gibbs 23 October
- Ramsey mid-November
And let’s hope and pray that none of those 16 October players is picked up by his country who declare him fit, and play him, and put him out for another three months.
OK, I know, this is so much to ask for, but for once just let it happen. And what then.
Our first team for our next home match would be
- Goal: a choice of keepers – actually I thought we were ok in this department but still a choice is always good.
- Defence: Vermaelen comes back in. Squiallci has done well, but I would sooner have Vermaelen
- Midfield: Add Fabregas to the mix, maybe giving Wilshere a break and letting him come on as a sub in the second half to allow Cesc to play his way in
- Bendtner maybe comes on a sub either to replace Chamakh or if needs be to play alongside him thus causing havoc in the opposition’s defence.
Suddenly the picture looks different. We don’t change the squad but we have options and possibilities depending on the way the game is going. Arsenal playing with two big centre forwards? Well, if that is what it takes to break down a 10 man defence, why not? (If by any chance you caught a glimpse of Wigan v Wolverhampton you’ll know just how nasty football is getting at the moment. When Henry of Wolverhampton was sent of no one even said “he’s not that sort of player, and we just had a keeper with nine defenders in front of him).
And then, let’s assume, against all the odds I know, but just have this flight of fancy, that no one new is injured that first week back after the internationals, and the following week we really do have Theo and Van Persie back as well plus Gibbs too. As the Little Cup and the Champs League matches pour in we have a chance to rotate. When we find ourselves up against the Wolverhampton style team bus we have ways of changing the game by changing the personnel.
Would we have won against The KGB in Fulham with Cesc, Vermaelen and Bendtner available? I think we could have got a draw out of it. With Van Persie and Theo as well? Possibly yes. As it was we seemed to have a huge amount of possession in that game, and that means that we were not at all far off.
Of course I know we lost, and of course I know we have slipped for fourth, and that is disappointing. But the fact that we could put up such a good performance with so many players out gives me enormous hope for the future. We are, in my view, still moving in the right direction.
But let me add one other point, if I may. There is another issue that we have covered in this blog for the past three years and which is now top news: the demise of Liverpool. In the summer there was speculation in the media that Liverpool would spend £35m on new players – and that plus whatever they got from a clear out of those players left over from the old regime and deemed to be not good enough to maintain Liverpool’s standards. (Untold on the other hand was predicting the demise of the club… maybe the media should take more notice).
The argument put here was that RBS (the bank that runs Liverpool) would never allow any net spending when it was surcharging Liverpool £2.5m a week because of the failure to repay the loans. To allow such spending would leave the bank open to claims of mis-management since spending on players would reduce the likelihood of the club being able to repay the loan.
That point is generally lost in the debate about Liverpool, and now attention is focussed on the fact that they are in the relegation places. But it remains as valid as ever. The club can only spend new money on players if it can be shown that doing so will enable those owed money by the club to get their money back. Ending the season higher or lower in the league won’t make any difference to the income this season, and so the bank doesn’t care about players.
The six bids that the press were so full of just a month or so ago have all vanished. The Chinese Government has not expressed an interest, and all the people who were supposedly doing “due diligence” have vanished in the wind. In the coming weeks the bank will make its next move and we’ll see exactly how it is going to get its money back, and what fight the current owners will put up, as a way of recovering some or all of their investment. The whole situation could go to court, which would leave Liverpool in no-man’s-land
Whatever happens it is going to be a dreadful mess. Meanwhile the finances at Arsenal are the reverse: our profits are enormous and the club is stable. Of course everyone wanted victories against WBA and Chelsea, and we got two defeats. But we are a stable club, pushing forward with only one major problem – the four year injury crisis. And even with that we seem to be getting closer and closer to finding a way through. We are, in my view, a lot closer than we were last year. The journey does not have far to run.
- Making the Arsenal: the only book about Arsenal and Norris. Fact! Fact! Fact!
- Arsenal Worldwide for supporters of Arsenal outside the UK. Fact!
- Untold Arsenal on Facebook here
- Untold Arsenal Index: silly stuff, serious stuff, and lots of facts!
- Arsenal Independent Supporters Association
- Arsenal History: currently telling the stories of all XI players who played in our first league game.
- Last season the table after 3 games was headline news. But probably not this season
- 117 players tipped as coming to Arsenal before the window closes
- Why Arsenal recruited a new defence first, then a new attack
- After two games we can start to make one or two judgements
- Winning the opening two league games is not that common for Arsenal