Arsene Wenger will take his team to St. Mary’s on New Year’s Day looking to get by one more game without a host of his injured midfield stars.
2014 has very much been the Year of Arsenal Injuries and has affected both campaigns with which it began and ended, upsetting a steady charge towards the League title and not even allowing us to get off first gear this season. We’ve managed to pull through, still in the mix after the first 19 games, 5th on the log, not exactly being bad news.
The big bad news for now is that Welsh midfield star Aaron Ramsey has not managed to hit full recovery yet, and will not go to Southampton with the team. Rambo’s last League game was against Stoke and has been sidelined due to a hamstring injury since the first half of the Champions League game against Galatasaray.
It had been expected that he would be in good shape for the first game of the New Year but Wenger appears to be taking a cautious route to avoid any setbacks on maximum recovery, having been injured for a greater part of the season already.
Without Ramsey and the others who are still injured, we should see an almost identical team to the one played at Upton Park, with a probable difference being a possible substitution of Francis Coquelin for Tomas Rosicky. It was good that the 34-year old got a rest against West Ham as his force of play would be much needed against Ronald Koeman’s energetic midfield players.
As much a blow to our preparations too, will be a possible absence for Danny Welbeck. He did have his best game for over two months against West Ham, scoring one and looking generally dangerous, but came off towards the end with what Wenger has confirmed as a concern to his hamstring.
Welbeck appeared to be relishing a restoration to the central role he’s always craved and must have been looking forward to take full advantage of Olivier Giroud’s three-match suspension. It’s be a shame if he wouldn’t get to utilize the opportunity now, and that means Wenger has a decision to make on whom to replace him.
Theo Walcott has been on the bench for the last three games but has not been used once and it is possible he could get the chance against his boy-hood club, although Wenger could still leave him amongst the subs as he remains short of competition.
Joel Campbell and Lukas Podolski will be pushing for that available place as well, that is if Sanogo is not fit as it obvious the manager has some preference for his physical attributes as the more appropriate center forward.
It is cheer-worthy to note that we used all of our six first-choice defenders against West Ham, the remarkable joy being the return of Laurent Koscielny. His absence has cost us some much needed equilibrium and it is only good news that he has made it back to full fitness.
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