Arsene Wenger today revealed that he has a fully fit squad apart from just four absentees. If we had a bit of luck on our side the injured ones would be fringe players, but unfortunately they include our two best defenders and best midfielder – Vermaelen, Sagna and Wilshere respectively. The other is Diaby, who’s spent so much time on the treatment table I’m surprised Deep Vein Thrombosis isn’t one of his ailments.
Sagna and Wilshere being out for months is of course a huge blow, but Vermaelen is close to a return according to Le Boss:
He’s two weeks away. He is running out on the pitches. He looks alright but we have to respect the progression, you still have to give him two to three weeks to be competitive again.
The sooner we can pair Vermaelen and Mertesacker together the sooner our goals against tally will slow down. They need time to gel as a partnership though and any improvement will be gradual.
Diaby could be available for the Stoke game next week, but I’d prefer to see Coquelin or Frimpong picked ahead of him anyway. Diaby has played 158 times for Arsenal – that’s plenty of opportunities to prove himself worthy of wearing the Arsenal shirt, but apart from the occasional good game I don’t think he’s done it consistently enough. It’s time for Coquelin and Frimpong to be given a chance now – Diaby has blown his.
So I reckon we’ll line up like this on Sunday:
Jenkinson — Mertesacker — Koscielny — Gibbs
Song — Ramsey — Arteta
Walcott — van Persie — Gervinho
That’s eight of our first choice starters so using injuries as an excuse is starting to wear thin now. I think Santos will only be used in Europe and the Carling Cup until he settles in properly. Jenkinson is a weak link but we have little other option. That’s the risk Wenger took by employing a rookie who was playing non-league football this time last year as our deputy right back. Let’s hope he justifies the manager’s faith in him.
We desperately need the Verminator back playing again
The front men should be capable of scoring against Sunderland. I still worry about our lack of creativity since Fabregas left but we should still be too strong for the Mackems. I’d love to see Oxlade-Chamberlain given a run out at some stage of the match. He looks a lot better as a wide player than Walcott already. Theo should be played up front in another formation, but I’ll save my thoughts on that for another article as there’s much to talk about on that subject.
On a side note it would appear Fabianski is suffering from delusions of grandeur, claiming he should be Arsenal’s number one ahead of Szczesny. Apparently Szczesny is lucky that he’s even in the team:
“If it wasn’t for my injury, he wouldn’t be here today where he is. I’d still be the number one – I didn’t lose my place because I played badly but because of the shoulder mishap. The same applies to the Poland national team. I didn’t let down the coach, I did well in the games I played.”
Oooh, are those grapes a bit sour Lukasz? Fabianski seems to have forgotten he only got into the team because Almunia was so badly unsettled by Wenger’s pursuit of Schwarzer last summer that he suffered a disastrous loss of form. Once a decent keeper came along (enter Mr Szczesny) it was only a matter of time before the talentless munchkin lost his place. His shoulder injury spared him the embarrassment of being dropped. Besides, on the only occasion he played this season against Shrewsbury, he conceded when he allowed a League Two striker a free header from five yards as he stayed rooted to his line. Moments before that he gave up on a shot he thought was rolling wide, only to see it hit the post and bounce back into play!
It sounds like Fabianski is suffering from Bendtner-itis, a little-known condition which severely distorts one’s perceived ability from one’s actual ability. I hope he gets nowhere near the first team this season – could you imagine how many he’d concede behind our defence?!
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