The dreaded International break! When will it ever bring us good news?
Indeed, it was meant to bring us some cheer at the end with the imminent return of Theo Walcott to the team after a ten-month spell on the sidelines nursing a ligament injury. It was to be the beginning of a period of understanding and anticipated great partnership between him and our mercurial German playmaker, showing replicas all those wonderful exchanges he had with Ronaldo years ago at Madrid.
That won’t be happening now, at least for the next 10 – 12 weeks with the news that Ozil has torn a cable or two in his knee. Club doctors say Ozil had complained about a sore knee after the Chelsea game, after which they asked the Team Doctor of the German National Team to run an MRI scan on him to determine the extent of the injury and the possibility of his involvement in their Euro 2016 qualifiers against Poland.
Now we know, Ozil has joined Debuchy and Giroud on the mid/long-term casualty list. He will most likely be out till the New Year – Wenger will say they will return like new signings in the winter window. But before then, won’t we have hit rockbottom in our challenge for honours this season?
Arteta, Ramsey, Monreal and the mysterious Yaya Sanogo are all unavailable for selection for at least the next couple of weeks, leaving us with a rather thin squad at the moment. There’ll be 16 games for us between now and the 1st of January when Arsene will be able to dip into the transfer market for reinforcements to his depleted squad. These games include tough home fixtures to Manchester United and Dortmund, as well as tricky away ties to Stoke, Liverpool and Galatasaray. By no means are any fixtures to be classed as easy but given the way we have gone about the previous fixtures of the season (bar the Dortmund and Southampton mishaps), you could say that the absence of a player or two has not had much to do with a our winning or losing. Ozil will be missed, but certainly his absence won’t spell doom for the rest of the campaign.
Arsene Wenger may not be the most agreeable coach in the world in terms of flowing with the current tides, but one which has stuck with him over the past 18 years is the rare ability to figure out a way of holding the fort in seemingly desperate situations. He knows how to call on other players in the squad to fill gaps in the team left gaping by ‘indispensables’.
In actual fact, Ozil has been anything but indispensable this season. Aston Villa was the peak of his performances this season, but he has been less influential than a couple others in the team, in particular, Jack Wilshere.
Ozil’s injury may be Jack’s blessing in disguise, coupled also with Ramsey’s absence. The England golden boy had been heavily criticized in recent seasons, the general opinion being that he has not developed since his announcement in 2011. The super midfielder, however, has continuously progressed this season, with strong imposing performances in many a match this season, even at Stamford Bridge.
Jack could be elevated to the Number 10 role in Ozil’s long absence, perhaps paired with Chamberlain in central midfield, while Walcott returns to his usual role. The Jack-Chambo combo will see us play with a bit more pace and power around the center of the park, with the pace of Alexis and Theo feeding Welbeck further forward. Wilshere will become the heartbeat of the team – something we all know is his destiny in the future of this team.
Ozil’s absence could see Wenger give Podolski or Joel Campbell another chance to stake a claim in the team, with Cazorla perhaps reclaiming the creator role, while either of the two could be deployed to the wings. Three months must be long enough for either to prove their value to the team, or face the January exit door.
There’s such a thing as a blessing in disguise and Ozil’s may just be one.
We could also be ‘happy’ for the German in a way, as this will give him a break from the unrestrained infestation on him by the press.
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