Following the monumental capitualtion against Anderlecht in the Champions League on Tuesday night, all that seemed well and healthy over the past few weeks in the Arsenal camp have, once again, assumed an immuno-deficient countenance. Confidence, momentum, and of course, more allocation to the treatment room.
Not only do we now have to resign ourselves to the loss of a valuable chance to catch up with Dortmund in our group by losing two vital points, the loss of Captain Mikel Arteta is another severe blow to our already limited options in midfield, especially in the co-ordinating role.
Arteta has only just returned to the team from injury in the game at Sunderland two weeks ago. He calmly stepped up to give us the lead from the penalty spot – the 500th Arsenal goal at the Emirates, and put in a very commanding display. Little wonder the team seemed to lose its shape when he leapt off mid-way into the second half at 3 – 1.
Wenger couldn’t confirm how long it’d take for him to return to the team but we could give ourselves a pretty good idea of how long it takes for those kinds to heal, seeing Koscielny has been out three weeks and counting.
Jack Wilshere was unavailable for selection for Tuesday due to a flu but should be in line to make a return to action at the Liberty stadium. Wilshere’s last game was at Beligum away to yesterday’s opponents, his last appearance in the League being at home to Hull City. While the magnitude of his contributions could at times come under scrutiny, he is still very much a player the manager would rather have than be without.
Theo Walcott made his long-awaited ten month return to action over the weekend
against Burnley but could not feature at Anderlecht due to the circumtance of the second period. Wenger must be looking at getting him to become used to action again but on a slow and cautious scale so as not to risk any accidents or set-backs to his full recovery. Fellow long-term absentee Serge Gnabry is yet to return to action with the first team as he is still short of full fitness, together with Abou Diaby.
Danny Welbeck appears to be in need of a rest after a pretty jaded performance on Tuesday evening and so it must be good that Yaya Sanogo could make the bench for the second successive game. Olivier Giroud is also set to return after the next International break after Wenger declared him as being ‘miles ahead of schedule’. Giroud had been expected back untill 2015 having required operation for a broken ankle bone against Everton in August. Fellow frenchman Mat Debuchy doesn’t appear to be too far away too, the Christmas engagements likely to see him feature.
Key absentees in other areas include Larent Koscielny, Mesut Ozil and David Ospina, the latter two destined for the New Year.
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