Arsenal will attempt a sixth League win on a row on Saturday at White Hart Lane but will be without Alexis Sanchez for the second game in a row.
It had been hoped that the Gunners’ topscorer this season would have overcome his hamstring pain which had kept him out of last week’s win over Aston Villa to make his first start in a North London derby but those hopes have been squashed by Wenger’s revelations in Thursday press conference ahead of the lunch time kick-off.
Speaking to newsmen on the availability of his star man, Wenger said:
“The latest is that Alexis is not ready. He is not far away, the Leicester game is a possibility. He is of course very difficult to keep quiet. He is in training but it’s light training”
It was the sound of one trying to be as optimistic as possible about what was obviously a quite disappointing scenario. The Chilean has been a bulwark figure in Arsenal’s season so far, being singly responsible for some good results from some games as his 18 goals in all competitions would easily show. He may not have scored in the team’s last ten goals but the level of competition he has brought with him from Barcelona has seen a considerable lift amongst his teammates.
It is difficult to drop a player of his stature especially when on form and is clearly the best in the team, and that would have played a part in Wenger not being able to manage him more carefully before being able to give him a rest against Brighton. Injuries to the vast majority of players have made it kind of necessary too that he played nearly every game.
With the availability of Ozil, Walcott and Welbeck, Wenger should be able to find a way to cushion the effects of Alexis’s absence. Spurs may pose a greater all-round threat and resistance than Aston Villa did last time but it has been part of Wenger’s excellence to prove his ability to work out systems that get results according to the players available.
Having played 815 of 900 minutes since Wenger’s warning that he was in the red zone, it looks as though the effects of an incredible load of work is beginning to tell on the muscles and joints of the Arsenal man with this hamstring episode a possible ground breaker to more time to be spent in the injury room.
But if Wenger says he is “not far away”, being of good cheer and hoping he returns at Leicester is just about the only thing you can do, while hoping for the team to play like he doesn’t exist against Spurs.
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