There were not many positives to take out of Belgium other than the three points snatched right at the death. But we were all pleased that we came out unscathed, not only in terms of points but injuries as well as the mad rush didn’t claim any casualty.
Aaron Ramsey completed 90 minutes for the first time in over a month following up from his 20 minutes injury return against Hull last weekend and seems very likely to retain his place in the team for Sunderland. The Arsenal Player of the Year has not found it easy to replicate the form that saw him almost single handedly lift the Gunners last season, with injuries and the team’s general slump affecting his own play. That wouldn’t amount to writing him off for the season as he actually did start brightly with 3 goals in the first four games. He’ll be vital for the trip to the Stadium of Light as we’d be without one more creativ player in Jack Wilshere who will serve a one-match suspension for a fifth booking picked up against Hull.
Wenger hasn’t concluded on when to plunge Theo Walcott back into the heat of first team action as the winger makes his gradual recovery back to normal training. The 25 year old runner, who had been out for up to 10 months has been able to re-integrate into the team, partaking in training sessions, and even got a 45-minute run out with the U-21s last friday. The manager appears to be hesistant about taking him to a tough place like Sunderland for now, but will certainly start using him from next week. Walcott’s fellow long-term returnee, Serge Gnabry is also not available for saturday, as he continues to build up to attaining full fitness in training.
The biggest problem remains in defence, where Laurent Koscielny remains unavailable. The frenchman has been in and out of the team this season, first returning with achilles problems from Brasil, to getting dizzy from a clash of heads against Leicester, to presently suffering the recurrence of that post-World Cup injury, the extent of which is known fully known at the moment. Wenger faces the dilemma of either sticking with Nacho Monreal in central defence or switching Calum Chambers from the right back position. The young English International did not have the best of games against Anderlecht though his stunning cross was the first piece of an incredible three minute come-back victory. It may be worth it to give Hector Bellerin another shot at his more natural position.
David Ospina will remain on the sidelines for the next three months after it was confirmed that his thigh injury had resurfaced after he entered as an unprepared into the Galatasaray game. It means Arsenal is now stretched in every single department of the squad, from the strikers to the men between the sticks.
Not long before Steve Bould would have to stand in for Wenger.
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