Arsene Wenger last night confirmed that Kieran Gibbs wouldn’t be back anytime soon. The Englishman was seen as the closest full-back to returning and easing the current defensive crisis, but speaking after the victory over Aston Villa, Wenger said:
“The injury situation is not looking good — the full-backs will not be back before mid-to-late January. We have to see who can play there from game to game and be creative.”
So it would seem we’ll try to make do with what we have between now and “mid-to-late January” without bringing anybody in. Despite players such as Wayne Bridge being linked with a loan move, the gaffer seems to have done a U-turn on Tuesday’s comments in which he said he may possibly make a loan signing and instead will be “creative” with his current squad.
I think that’s the correct decision for two reasons. Firstly, who would be available on loan who is good enough and match fit? Wayne Bridge has played one game all season in the Carling Cup and was woeful on loan for West Ham last year. Theo Walcott made him look like a pub player in January because he was so unfit and if that’s the best we can come up with, then no thanks.
Secondly, our forthcoming fixture list isn’t too taxing. Mid-to-late January would probably be the big game against Man Utd on January 22nd. Assuming we’ll have one or two back for that one (probably Gibbs and/or Jenkinson) we need to negotiate the matches before then without recognised full-backs. They are:
Dec 26 — Wolves (h) (17th in Premiership)
Dec 31 — QPR (h) (16th in Premiership)
Jan 2 — Fulham (a) (13th in Premiership)
Jan 9 — Leeds (h) (6th in Championship)
Jan 15 — Swansea (a) (14th in Premiership)
No return imminent for Kieran
On paper, not too difficult then. Against the league leaders on Sunday it was too big an ask, but against 12th place Aston Villa we still had enough to win despite a poor defensive mistake. So it’s a good time to be playing teams in the bottom half of the table.
Let’s hope Wenger can coax good performances from deputies such as Coquelin and Miquel over the coming weeks and that the physios fix up one or two full-backs for the Man Utd game. I think we can cope until then and we certainly don’t need the likes of Wayne Bridge.
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