Anybody who wondered if the international break had come at a good time for Arsenal has probably had their answer now. The feeling that most of the squad would spend time away forgetting the Chelsea defeat and return ready to start all over again against Hull has been replaced by yet another massive inquest.
It all started on Wednesday when the German FA announced to the world that Mesut Ozil would be out for 10-12 weeks with a ‘partial lateral collateral ligament tear’ in the left knee. Immediately it sunk in that once again he and Aaron Ramsey, so crucially missing for a vital part of the title run-in earlier in the year, are out together again.
Twenty-four hours on and Laurent Koscielny was sent back to Arsenal by France with chronic tendonitis of both ankles. With Mathieu Debuchy already ruled out by injury and Calum Chambers suspended for the next fixture at home to Hull the last thing we needed was another scare involving a back four player.
The reference to the tail end of last season may be unfair. Theo Walcott is close to a return, and his absence was another contributory feature of our spring collapse. The cover for Mesut is there. Santi Cazorla, Tomas Rosicky, and more than ever Jack Wilshere, are all capable of fitting into the number ten role. They have not only the returning Theo to work with. In spring we didn’t have Alexis or Danny Welbeck. The forward options are starting to look attractive.
The potential early derailing of another title challenge won’t be down to any attacking weakness. We are, however very much down to the bare bones defensively. All together now. “We knew that. We told you so in August.” Hindsight favours those of a pessimistic hue, as it so often does. They aren’t wrong though. Going into a season with so few acknowledged defensive-minded players was likely to provoke a response if we picked up injuries and suspensions, and we have.
Having said all of that I think it wise to wait and see what happens in the coming weeks before going overboard with any assessment of where we are. Following, lest we forget, only our first Premier League defeat of the season, we have a string of fixtures which should yield enough points to keep us in relative touch with the leaders until the transfer window opens again in the new year. Without doubt we have the cash to buy should quality be available in that window.
Let’s assume we have the desire too, to strengthen further.
Campo Retro Arsenal Shirts
Look, as Arsene would say, the good folk at Campo Retro have offered Goonerholic readers a massive 20% discount off their superb range of shirts in October. You can check them out here. Pick your shirt or shirts of choice and when you checkout enter the code GH20 to secure your discount.
I’m tempted by the 1979 Cup Final shirt. What’s your favourite? Let me know in the drinks.