The dreaded International break has done us in, as usual.
As many as 14 Arsenal players including Kieran Gibbs, Calum Chambers, Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Danny Welbeck, Mesut Ozil, Lukas Podolski, Laurent Koscielny, Wojciech Szczenzy, Santi Cazorla, Tomas Rosicky, Alexis Sanchez, David Ospina and Joel Campbell, reported to their various localities for International duty, and considering these are the core members of our present team, with the exception of those who were already injured before the break, an injury to any of them was the last thing we expected.
In truth, expecting an injury from the International break is part of being an Arsenal fan, and this one did not disappoint.
Of the 14 above, at least 4 (that’s 28.5%) have been reported as having one concern or the other before, during or after their games; Ozil, Koscielny and Ospina not even involved in any of the games as they were recalled, while Welbeck had to be withdrawn at some point in England’s win away to Estonia.
Ozil was supposed to be involved in the Joachim Loew’s squad for their Euro qualifier against Szczenzy’s Poland but could not be involved in training prior to the game. The scan on the sore knee he had complained about after the Chelsea game had revealed that he had damaged some ligaments in his left knee and will now be on the sidelines for the next three months. Ozil’s loss must be a major blow to Wenger though the German’s performances have regularly come under intense criticism from the media as well as a host of gooners. The injury may not be unconnected with the player’s World Cup exertions, coupled with having to do more work on the pitch that he probably has been used to doing by being asked to play on the flanks which presents more demanding inputs, both in attack and especially in defence.
The crisis in defence continues to threaten to get worse with the scare of Koscielny during the break. There had appeared to be an aggravation of the French defender’s Achilles injury which he had been carrying for quite some time. Wenger made the precautionary move to recall him from the French team for their friendly with Portugal. He will probably be involved in the weekend game against Hull, but may as well be rested in favour of some of the youngsters, Hayden likely.
Of more concern, though, would be Ospina’s inability to feature for Colombia in their friendly with El Salvador having been recalled to the Emirates for tests on his thigh. It will be remembered that the former Nice goalkeeper signed for us this summer but arrived with worries in his thigh. He had then made his recovery, featuring in two first team games and in-line to replace Szczezny against Anderlecht. While it is hoped that there are no fears to be entertained over his condition, it will really put us in a vulnerable position if he were to be declared unavailable for another week or two.
And then there was Welbeck. The in-form striker, quite fresh from his hat-trick heroics, continued his good form with one of England’s five goals against San Marino at Wembley. It didn’t turn out so rosy at Tallin as he limped off in the 79th minute. Roy Hodgson doesn’t think there’s much of a concern to his ankle and expects him to be fit. However, with Arsenal, you just never know.
The good news from the break was obviously about Wilshere’s continued adaptation to the deep-role, turning in consecutive Man of the Match displays in both qualifying games. elsewhere, Alexis produced a magic assist while Rosicky played 90 minutes.
Not so bad after all, was it? Plus Walcott’s returning soon.
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